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Chamberlain Save Britain? 



By the 

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FINANCE 
A CONCISE DICTIONARY OF FINANCE 
How THE STOCK t MARKET REALLY WORKS 
PROFITS FROM SHORT TERM INVESTMENTS 

A Study of the Technique of Market Anticipation 
THIS TARI-FF QUESTION 
SOMETHING IN THE CITY 
THE ECONOMICS OF HUMAN HAPPINESS 
CAN 1931 COME AGAIN ? 

Etc., etc., etc. 




AYE, AYE, SIR ! 

SIR ANTHONY EDEN [sic] SMILINGLY AGREES WITH 
M. LITVINOFF AT THE NINE POWER CONFERENCE IN 

BRUSSELS 

This photograph appeared with the above caption in the " New York 

Sun on Saturday, November 20, 1937. It is an interesting 

indication of the view taken of Mr. Eden s motives in foreign policy 

by American observers 



CAN 

SAVE BRITAIN? 

The Lesson of Munich 

By 
COLLIN BKOOKS 



1938 
EYKE T SPOTTISWOODE 



First printed 



Y1 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN FOR J rtfY 

spomswooDE (PUBLISHERS) UMIT.J r /U 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Foreword vii 

CHAPTER 

I. Britain at Hazard i 

II. Towards Bankruptcy 15 

III. The Perversion of Parliament . . . . 28 

IV. The Fiasco of Disarmament . . . . 46 
V. The Tragedy of Edenism .. .-57 

VI. The Insanity of Sanctions . . ... 72 

VII. The Hoare-Laval Incident .. .-93 

VIII. The Emergence of Hitler .. . . 108 

IX. Britain Degraded 133 

X. Britain and Spain 152 

XL The End of Edenism 168 

XII. The Cost of War and the Price of Peace 185 

XIII. Mandates 200 

XIV. Whither Britain? 212 

XV. The Power of the Premier .. ..232 

Index . . . . . . . . 245 



FOREWORD 

^ I ^HE Four Power Conference of Munich in 

{September 1938 gave to the world either an 
uneasy postponement of conflict or the prom 
ise of a lasting peace. 

There have been many interpretations placed upon 
it. Many will agree with the Prime Minister that the 
most vital aspect of his three visits to Germany was 
the demonstration that the German people want 
peace, despite the militarism of the regime under 
which they live. Others will agree that Munich 
showed that the heads of "Democratic" States can 
talk directly and with amicable results with the 
heads of Totalitarian States. All must be aware that 
it was a demonstration of the real power of Germany, 
since for the third time the Prime Minister of Great 
Britain flew hurriedly to the presence of the ruler of 
Germany in an effort to persuade him not to make 
war, bringing with him the Premier of France and 
at Britain s solicitation the Duce of Italy. Palatable 
or unpalatable, the fact is that ill-prepared and 
loosely organised democratic States waited upon 
well-prepared and tightly-organised Totalitarian 
States. 

Before the advent to power of Herr Hitler my 
published writings on national affairs were critical of 
the power of Parliament, that is of the Parliamentary 

vii 



viii FOREWORD 



system as we have come to work it, to protect 
Britain from disaster, whether military or economic. 
After the rise of Herr Hitler, that view was uttered 
more and more stridently by me. As early as 1935 
I incurred great odium by publishing in a popular 
newspaper a frank plea for National Service. As 
early as 1934 I am a little amazed to find in the 
very mild forum of The Bookman, least controversial 
of papers, I was urging that democracy must spell 
national doom in the face of Hitlerism, Throughout 
1936, both in the daily Press and the strongly con 
trasted pages of The English Review, I declared in the 
face of much ridicule that Britain economically 
was again infested with the virus of 1929. This book 
repeats and develops all that I wrote in those earlier 
years. It is a book written in the sincere conviction 
that the prime need of the world is peace, and that 
of all nations Great Britain can least afford war. 
It is written in the belief that the economic no less 
than the military circumstances of Great Britain 
have radically changed during the past two genera 
tions, and that the change of circumstances demands 
a change of policy if Britain is to survive as the heart 
of a great Empire. 

There is much in the pages that follow which can 
be glibly labelled "defeatism" or stamped as lack of 
patriotism. In stating and asking others to face 
unpleasant truths I am conscious of neither defeatism 
nor lack of patriotism. On the contrary, I believe 
that those Parliamentarians and publicists in the 
Press who have misled the public as to the relative 



FOREWORD ix 



military strengths of the nations and the relative 
economic soundness of Britain and her trade rivals 
will, in the light of coming events, incur the gravest 
responsibility. They will have helped to leave the 
nation unprepared for facts very different from the 
more palatable fancies woven from complacent 
imaginations. 

In the Spring of 1938 I published a small book 
called "Can 1931 Come Again?" in which I drew 
attention to the consistent and rapid decay of our 
export industries, to the coming decline in our invisible 
exports, to the unsound growth of national and 
municipal debt and to the appalling neglect of our 
native agriculture. The book was widely reviewed 
and discussed, but commentators, with a few excep 
tions, refused to admit that Britain was driving to a 
crisis. Their refusal was based upon a belief that a 
currency unanchored from gold could prevent any 
such repetition of the debacle of 1931 . Trade figures, 
traffic figures, company results, bank clearings have, 
since the publication of that book, steadily and mono 
tonously confirmed its forecasts. In July 1938 a 
meeting of Members of Parliament under the auspices 
of the 1922 Committee allowed to be put on public 
record its opinion that a financial crisis was virtually 
inevitable between 1939 and 1940. In the same 
month the heads of two great shipping companies 
publicly announced that they could not place orders 
for British ships as British prices were uneconomic. 
The general consciousness of the country, it is 
obvious, is now receptively aware of those grim facts 



x FOREWORD 



which were scouted when "Can 1931 Come Again?" 
was published. 

What that small volume did for the economic phase 
only of our national life, this book attempts to do for 
a broader political aspect. For any abuse which it 
may arouse, I care nothing. For any reasoned and 
constructive criticism which it draws, proving some 
of my more gloomy beliefs to be fallacious, I offer in 
advance a sincere welcome. 

One section of the early chapters in particular I 
would wish to emphasise. For many years past, in 
newspaper articles, in books, in reviews of other 
men s books, in speeches and addresses, I have de 
nounced Parliamentary Government, as we know it, 
as a decadent and inefficient institution. Such an 
attitude towards Parliament, as that sturdy old 
democrat Mr. George Bernard Shaw has recently 
discovered, immediately classifies a man as a friend 
to tyranny and a lover of dictatorship. I am no 
friend to tyranny and no lover of tyrants but, 
unfortunately, I am compelled to realise that the swift 
and secret progress towards a chosen aim which is 
possible to dictators and is not possible to Parlia 
ments, the devotion and sacrifice of sectional interests 
to national advancement which is possible to dictator 
countries and is apparently not possible to Parlia 
mentary democracies, places Parliamentary countries 
at a grave and probably a fatal disadvantage, 
whether for military or economic triumph. Unless 
and until that disadvantage is remedied Great Britain 
must remain in the jeopardy in which we now see her. 



FOREWORD xi 



That is the conviction which is the essence of this 
book. 

There is one other accusation to which this book 
is almost certain to give rise. It is that its writer is 
an enemy of the British worker, desiring to limit 
freedom and reduce material comforts. It is because 
I care above all else for the survival of the British 
worker and desire to preserve him from the greatest 
and most cruel of catastrophes the assault and 
destruction of modern war and the starvation and 
misery of economic collapse that I have tried to 
assemble the facts of our recent and present history 
and to draw from them what seem to me to be the 
inevitable conclusions. 

I do not believe that Britain is finished but I do 
believe that without a drastic reform of her methods 
of Government and her mode of living her existence 
as a great Power must be further imperilled, and may 
be ended. To suggest that whatever curtailment of 
individual liberty and whatever sacrifice of immediate 
material comfort such a reform demands is too great 
a price to pay for security and survival seems to me a 
betrayal of those masses of people not in a position 
to know or interpret the facts, and a negation of sense. 

To disguise the facts or wilfully to misinterpret 
them because electors, shareholders or newspaper 
subscribers may not relish unpalatable truths seems 
to me, as I wrote in my previous book, to be rank 
cowardice. It is cowardice of that kind which invites 
disaster because it lulls into a false sense of security 
those who should be active in their own defence. 



xii FOREWORD 



It was such cowardice that misled the British 
people about their relative weakness in the air when 
Germany had re-armed. It was such cowardice that 
permitted the ordeal of 1931 to affect many hundreds 
of thousands of British homesteads without warning 
or time to prepare for its hardships. 

External circumstances and not national desires 
to-day govern Britain s course. She may choose 
between a generation of discipline and frugality and a 
generation of prodigality and peril. The first may 
lead to a new prosperity and, combined with a 
realistic foreign policy, to a new security. The 
second will assuredly lead to economic bankruptcy 
and possibly to political destruction. 

These are grave words but, at the moment, no 
more than words. 

By the facts that follow they must be justified or 
refuted. In the presentation of those facts I have 
tried to be honest; in my interpretation of them I am 
certainly sincere. Of the reader who considers them, 
whether in agreement or disagreement with my con 
clusions, I solicit the same honesty and sincerity of 
purpose the good of Britain and the welfare and 
survival of her people. 

C B 
October 1938. 



CHAPTER I 

BRITAIN AT HAZARD 

Time and the ocean and some fostering star 
In high cabal have made us what we are . . . 

WILLIAM WATSON. 

WHATEVER view is taken of the events of 
September 1938, when the vigour and 
courage of Neville Chamberlain snatched 
Europe from the very brink of destruction by war, 
one fact is beyond dispute. Germany, as Herr 
Hitler told the British Prime Minister, was ready to 
fac a world war, and Britain was not. 

Had the Godesberg ultimatum not been softened 
at Munich, Britain would have fought but under 
appalling handicaps. Imminent war revealed to 
the most complacent self -comforters how great were 
the gaps in our defences. 

Mr. Chamberlain has been arraigned as one of those 
responsible for the perilous plight in which Great 
Britain found herself. It is a charge from which he 
cannot wholly escape, for it was he who stood at the 
right hand of Mr. Stanley Baldwin and Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald during the years when the British 
people were misled as to the strength of German 
armaments and were themselves left without 
adequate preparation for a clash which the British 
, Government s own foreign policy had made almost 
inevitable. 

By the Summer of 1938 it was obvious that after 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



emerging as a victorious Power from the War of 
1914-1918 Britain in twenty years had sunk so low 
in international prestige that she could with impunity 
be insulted, ignored and derided. Italy, Germany, 
Japan, Fascist Spain had all in turn shown unmis 
takably, as this book will later demonstrate, that 
neither Britain s wrath nor her honest indignation 
caused any perturbation among those who knew that 
their arms and determination outweighed those of 
the British. 

Mr. Chamberlain s insistence over Czechoslovakia 
on a negotiated settlement, and his ability to con 
vince Herr Hitler, even at the eleventh hour, that 
Britain was prepared to accept war rather than see 
the forms of negotiation set aside, has temporarily 
improved Britain s prestige with Germany. But that 
prestige cannot be maintained now that our total un- 
preparedness for war has been so mercilessly exposed. 
Mr. Chamberlain, fortunately, at Godesberg and 
Munich had not to press his opposition to Germany far. 
Czechoslovakia was not a worthy occasion for war. 
Under President Benes the Czechs, far from forming 
a noble little democracy as British sentimentalists 
supposed, represented a tyrannous government, 
oppressive to its minorities, and dominated in 
international politics by Russia. Czechoslovakia 
was created in chicanery and existed in tyranny. 
Its dismemberment was not a wrong, but the right 
ing of a wrong. But the lesson of that dis 
memberment was that Europe yielded to a threat 
of force what had been refused to appeals to justice, 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



and she yielded because Soviet Russia, half-Com 
munist France and unarmed-Britain were unable 
to contemplate a conflict with the Totalitarian 
States. It was not the fear of bombs over Prague, 
but of bombs over London and Paris that caused the 
great wave of anti-war feeling in the British and 
French capitals, neither of which was equipped to 
defend its peoples. 

The lesson of the recent crisis drives deeper than 
any realisation that Britain s rearmament has 
been tardy and inefficient. It raises the question 
whether Britain in the modern world can survive 
without a complete change in her mode of life. 

Mr. Chamberlain in roughly a year of office has 
done much to reverse and repair the errors of policy 
which had caused the decay of British power and 
influence but there still remains for the British 
people the real choice of ways. 

Are they to cling tenaciously from mere sentiment 
to outworn forms and modes of Government no 
longer capable of protecting the State from military 
or economic disaster, or are they to abandon such 
obsolete forms for a system of Government which will 
preserve the State and ensure the continuance of 
the Empire? 

It is the habit of many hearty but thoughtless 
patriots to preach that any weakness detected 
in the situation of Britain is more apparent than 
real, that in the jaundiced eye of the critic, and not in 
the fabric of the Constitution he examines, is the flaw. 
The Empire, they cry, is virile. It cannot perish. 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



Such Imperial Coueism cannot save the British 
Commonwealth if it is left open to its enemies, 
whether those enemies be the airmen of political 
adversaries or the ideologies of its own sections. 

Every man feels that all men are mortal but 
himself. Great Empires entering their epochs of 
destruction are no less sure of survival, though 
Empires as great have passed, slowly or swiftly, from 
domination. Historians and philosophers have com 
bined to explore the causes which bring Empires to 
ruin, and they have agreed that the popular idea that 
races lose power from the onset of age is not sound. 

It is not true that there are young and virile nations 
and old and decrepit ones. Empires have perished 
with their peoples still in vigour. Racial decadence 
may cause destruction, but there are other causes. 

"We must not consider a diminution of national 
power, whether relative or absolute, as constituting 
by itself a proof of national decadence," said a 
famous statesman-philosopher.* "Holland is not 
decadent because her place in the hierarchy of 
European Powers is less exalted than it was two 
hundred years ago. Spain was not necessarily 
decadent at the end of the seventeenth century 
because she had exhausted herself in a contest far 
beyond her resources either in money or men. It 
would, I think, be rash even to say that Venice was 
decadent at the end of the eighteenth century, though 
the growth of other Powers, and the diversion of the 
great trade routes, had shorn her of wealth and 

*Lord Balfour: "Sidgwick Memorial Lecture/ Cambridge, 1908. 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



international influence. These are misfortunes which 
in the sphere of sociology correspond to accident or 
disease in the sphere of biology/ 

To say, and feel, that the future of Britain is dark 
and doubtful is not to say that the British are 
necessarily decadent. It is rather to say that, 
whether virile or decadent, the British have shown 
in the last score of years that they are no more 
immune from "accident" than were Holland, Spain 
or Venice, and to express the fear that by lethargy or 
blunder they are now inviting calamities which can 
and should be avoided. 

Britain is unique among nations. Only Japan 
remotely resembles her. The means of the British 
rise to dominance and the needs which Britain has 
for vast necessary imports to ensure the survival of 
her too dense population are shared in the history 
and circumstance of no other race. 

Even the qualities of the Briton are peculiar. No 
other race can show that strange mixture of assurance 
of its own selfless sincerity combined with the 
conviction abroad of its selfish hypocrisy. With the 
Bible in one hand and the sword in the other or by a 
combination of missionary zeal and shrewd dealing 
the Briton has taken to himself a quarter of the 
habitable globe and claims dominion over all its 
waters, and this he has done in th,e name of humanity, 
unaware, or resentful, that humanity regards his 
search for invisible grace as being strangely like a 
search for invisible exports. 

To-day, with his possession threatened and his 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



claim to domination challenged, the Briton turns ^on 
the qualities which won him his Empire and his high 
standards of material and cultural living, and de 
nounces them in others as signs of barbarism. 

In considering the choice that lies before Britain 
let us at the outset clear our minds of one piece of 
cant. Having made an Empire, and having per 
mitted an industrial revolution to create a population 
of over forty-seven millions of people for islands 
ill adapted naturally to support half that number, 
we cannot now decide that "property is theft" and 
that Imperialism is criminal. 

We are the legatees of our own responsibilities. 
Our millions must be fed and defended, no matter 
how much any of them may yearn for some new and 
gentler ideal of life. We cannot say, "this is not the 
Britain of our dream to Hell with it/ We can 
find no answer when other nations, finding us in a 
mood of new moral self-righteousness, ready to 
rebuke in others the aspirations we once applauded 
in ourselves, cry, scornfully, "Dost thou think, 
because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more 
cakes and ale!" 

"Time, and the ocean and some fostering star" are 
not alone responsible for the shape our racial destiny 
has taken. Necessary adventurers like Raleigh and 
Drake, Clive, Hastings and Rhodes, Wolfe and 
Strathcona, Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John 
Nicholson, have aided in making us what we are. 
We need for our very existence the kind of Britain 
that they made for us. 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



If we now deprecate the qualities of these ancestors 
and hold their legacy in contempt, we shall assuredly find 
that men of their mould, speaking other tongues, will 
rend the heritance from us.* If that happens, we perish, 
some of our millions dying and others passing into helotry. 

The choice, in short, is not between the Britain that 
we know and some more pleasant Britain fashioned from 
a pipe -dream of Utopia. It is between the Britain that we 
know, with all its incessant economic needs, and a vassal 
Britain warped and disciplined by minds alien to our 
traditions. 

I have said that Britain is unique among nations. 
She is unique in this, that her topographical location, 
her geographical circumstance, gave to her in the 
days before steam a position of especial command. 
Situated just North of Europe when the tide of 
European civilisation had flowed northwards from 
the original cradle of mankind, the Mediterranean 
basin, and due East of the American continent, when 
the new world, as men called it, was beginning to 
demand the men and services of the old world, the 
British Isles were placed to receive, indeed, the best 
of both worlds. 

A group of islands set in Northern seas, but 
granted, from the fortuitous course of the Gulf 
Stream, a climate that combined the warmth that 
makes men genial and the cold that makes them 
energetic, had perforce to breed a race of industrious 
agriculturalists, of skilled and daring seamen and of 
adventurous wayfarers. Few races have owed more 
to their environment than the British. 

*If any doubt this, let them realise that Drake and Balbo are alike 
celebrated in history as great circumnavigators of the globe. 



8 BRITAIN AT HAZARD 

To the making of the British character heredity no 
less than environment contributed. The stocks that 
were crossed to produce the racial types which set 
sail to wrest an Empire for Britain from other nations 
and from the unexplored places of the world were 
vigorous stocks. Had they not been so, they would 
never have come to the northern isles. 

Four great cultures had waxed and waned in the 
British Isles before the coming of the Romans, who 
ruled here for four hundred years with their gift of a 
highly ordered and cultivated society. The Roman 
legions left the Wall, and the Picts came flooding 
from the North. To stem this tide, what still 
remained of Roman Britain sought or welcomed the 
help of strong fighting men from the regions round 
Denmark. By the eighth century the Danes them 
selves were pouring into Britain. From the great 
raid of 787, when the viking freebooters devastated 
Northumbria, to the day when Swegen handed the 
sceptre of Britain to his son Canute in the eleventh 
century, the tide of battle swirled between Saxons 
and Danes, until Edward the Confessor and Harold, 
last of the Saxon kings, gave place to the arrogant 
Norman whom we have come to call William the 
Conqueror and they knew as the Bastard of Falaise. 

For over a thousand years the British Isles 
received, and absorbed or slew, these fighting 
breeds Celt, Roman, Saxon, Dane, Norseman, 
Norman each contributing a strain, while visiting 
traders from the far ends of the then known 
earth impregnated the tradition, and doubtless the 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 



physique of the race, with minor but potent 
influences. 

The work of the Norman kings the last of the 
raiders, the raiders who came to stay in welding the 
people of the islands into a nation is the commonplace 
of every child s history book, but in admiring the 
work of the welders none should forget or underrate 
the materials welded. 

A people so fashioned, in a land so set, were well 
equipped to fulfil the national destiny of Britain 
before the days of steam; they were even more 
favoured when steam, like a djinn from a bottle, 
transformed the political and trading aspects of the 
world. 

Until the industrial revolution Britain s staple 
manufacture was cloth. Thereafter she began to 
concentrate on all kinds of industry, but particularly 
textiles, coal mining and the many departments of 
the iron and steel trade. Because she had vast 
resources of coal and iron, and no coal or iron field 
was far from a port, she was first in the field as a 
modern manufacturing nation. Until relatively 
recent years she was to retain her unchallenged 
position as the workshop of the world. 

Added to the luck of her geographical position and 
the possession of coal and iron was the extra luck 
of the social system which had developed before the 
invention of the steam engine. 

"It was essential that there should be Capital 
which was necessary to finance the new methods of 
production and, of course, men willing to use their 



io BRITAIN AT HAZARD 

capital in this way in order to make them a business 
proposition. Trade and commerce were thus indis 
pensable preliminaries to industrialism, and these 
had been well developed in England by the eighteenth 
century. On the one hand, there was a certain 
number of men who had made great fortunes in 
foreign trade; and, on the other hand, there was a 
very considerable number of people who, by means of 
thrift, had accumulated small fortunes in industry 
and trade, though the scale of their operations had 
not been extensive. Never was the inequality of the 
distribution of wealth so fortunate. As soon as the 
new methods were conclusively proved to be econo 
mically sound though this was not immediately 
done the necessary money was forthcoming. But 
it may be noticed that it was the man with only a 
moderate amount of capital who came forward rather 
than the nabob, who preferred to invest his money in 
land, which gave political power and dignity. As a 
rule, the industrialist was a nonconformist who had 
amassed money by hard work and abstinence, whilst 
the nabob-cum-landowner was a member of the 
Church of England and a luxury lover. The theo 
logical views of the new industrialist were of especial 
importance. He believed that the parable of the 
talents was the basis of the Christian life, and that, if 
he had the opportunity, it was his first religious duty 
to make a material success of life by exploiting those 
to whom God had given inferior gifts/ 

It is thus that Mr. Frederic Milner emphasises (in 
his "Economic Evolution in England") an aspect of 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD n 

the economic development of Britain which cannot be 
over-emphasised, although it is often overlooked. 

The first British Empire, which was made between 
the days of the Tudors and the end of the eighteenth 
century, had been created by necessary adventurers, 
ranked by the outer world as pirates and filibusters, 
whose homeland was in a fortunate position as the 
base of their raids and wars. Of this period Francis 
Drake and Robert Clive can be taken as the repre 
sentative men. 

The second British Empire, which overlapped the 
first by a few years, was made possible by the same 
lucky positioning of the British Isles, by the presence 
there of essential raw materials for the exploitation of 
the new discoveries in the application of steam, by 
the absence of strong competitors, and by a peculiar 
turn of national character. That character had been 
moulded from thcs mixed stocks of adventurous men 
who had successively invaded and ruled Britain 
by the interplay of certain religious and political 
forces. 

This, then, is to be marked that if by the opening 
up of new lands in distant parts of the world Britain s 
geographical relation to her markets changes and is no 
longer first in advantage, if new sources of power and 
new forms of raw material supplant the iron and coal 
of Britain s great age, and if the national character 
loses the hard strains, the mixture of thrift and 
courage that once distinguished it, Britain is doomed. 

Britain s geographical relation to her markets has 
changed. For more than a century now the "New 



12 BRITAIN AT HAZARD 

World" has provided markets and suppliers to 
outweigh the old. 

New sources of power, water, oil, and electricity, 
have supplanted the coal and iron of Britain s great 
age. 

New raw materials are beginning to supplant the 
iron and steel of that flourishing time. Already 
cellulose made from timber and milk, new aluminium 
alloys and other contrivances of science are usurping 
the places held by the older simple metals and 
textiles. 

Has the national character changed also? Young 
men who vote and boast that under no pressure of 
circumstances will they fight for King and Country, 
old men who relinquish the economic and political 
control of vast dependencies like India, Egypt and 
the Middle-East while yet bearing the responsibility 
for their defence, emotional mobs that scream with 
anger against the thrust and drive of more virile 
nations and yet refuse to arm against them are 
these, indeed, signs of a decay of national character 
that will add the last ingredient to the chalice of our 
racial destruction? 

I itis this question in particular that this book sets 
itself to examine. From this question arises the 
second, that if the national character is still capable 
of preserving what it once created, is the system by 
which the nation is governed adequate for the task? 

Those who ask this kind of question are, I knowfin 
danger of being accused of lack of patriotism. They 
are open to the charge of being bewitched by 



BRITAIN AT HAZARD 13 

Berchtesgaden. They are immediately derided as the 
foes of democracy and liberty. My own conscience 
is clear. I know that the parrot cry of "Liberty!" is 
deadly if it means the liberty to refuse to make an 
effort to safeguard the means of all liberty, which is 
national security. 

As for patriotism what but a very genuine 
patriotism would cause a man to risk, as in this and 
other works 7 risk, the odium and derision of com 
placent and unawakened minds by the bawling of 
unpalatable truths about the jeopardy in which the 
country reels? 

In asking " Whither Britain?" I see what Cobbett 
saw, and 

what he saw was the perishing of the whole English power 
of self-support, the growth of cities that drain and dry tip the 
countryside, the growth of dense dependent populations 
incapable of finding their own food, the toppling triumph of 
machines over men, the sprawling omnipotence of financiers 
over patriots, the herding of humanity in nomadic masses 
whose very homes are homeless, the terrible necessity of 
peace and the terrible probability of war, all the loading up 
of our little island like a sinking ship; the wealth that may 
mean famine and the culture that may mean despair; the 
bread of Midas and the sword of Damocles.* 

But what Cobbett saw, with his foresight, when our 
peril began, I see as much more imminent, as our 
peril reaches its climax. 

If Great Britain is forced or lured into war without 
adequate arms and with her people undrilled to take 
the shock of attack, our end is certain. It is the 

*"William Cobbett/ G. K. Chesterton. 



14 .BRITAIN AT HAZARD 

vassalage of which I have spoken. But if "the 
terrible probability of war" remains only a prob 
ability, our fate is in our own hands. A refusal to 
change our methods of Government and our mode of 
life may mean our destruction; a determination to 
assess the forces at work in a world of political and 
economic transition, and to adapt our forms of 
Government and our ways of living to their dread 
necessity, may mean a triumphant survival in the 
face of all inimical circumstances. 

Never in all our fretted history were our fortunes 
so much at hazard. If Britain must perish, it is the 
hope of this book that no cenotaph shall remind our 
conquerors that fetish worship and false pride, love of 
comfort and fear of sacrifice betrayed us. 



CHAPTER II 

TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

The Association of British Chambers of Commerce, meeting in 
Glasgow yesterday, October 6th 1938, adopted a resolution viewing 
with considerable anxiety the existing world conditions and their 
effect upon our export trade. " We in this country must starve 
if we do not export/ 1 said Mr. Harry Alcock of Manchester. 

NEWS CHRONICLE, October yth, 1938. 

Over-spending, lack of home productivity, lack of competitive 
power in foreign markets, high costs, rising and crippling taxation, 
declining revenue from overseas investments and shipping services 
all these face us as they faced us in 1931. They are now, as then, the 
sure signs of impending crisis. And to-day we have serious foreign 
complications that were absent in 1931. 

" CAN 1931 COME AGAIN?" 

A /THOUGH in dramatic periods of history 
foreign policy and the danger of war over 
shadows other less exciting aspects of the 
national life, foreign policy must itself be governed 
by the economic capacity of the nation to impose its 
will on others or to prevent others imposing their 
will on it. 

Britain s strength for many generations was her 
industrial wealth. The creation of that wealth 
transformed the British Isles from rural communities 
to congested centres of industrial workers and their 
commercial assistants. 

In the early days of Britain s rise to world power 
the people of the islands were able to feed themselves 
and clothe themselves with relative ease, even though 
the nation might be locked in a death struggle, as it 
was with Spain and as it was in the days of Napoleon 

15 



16 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

with France. But with the coming of steam power, 
and those other sources of power which have fol 
lowed steam, this self-reliance passed. 

To-day the crux of all policy is that some 47,000,000 
of people must be supported in all circumstances and 
must command sufficient overseas trade to make that 
support possible in addition to any cost of defence. 
A vigorous foreign policy must always carry in its 
wake the possibility of war. War to-day implies 
the cutting off of those millions from their normal 
sources of supplies. But what is just as sinister is 
that a steady decay of trade may render the nation 
unable to purchase those supplies in the necessary 
quantity, war or no war. 

By all the reliable indices to trade, we are now 
suffering such a decay. In the course of one long 
lifetime the whole problem of the British Government 
has completely changed. Where there was once a 
nation of great and increasing economic power and 
wealth, able by a great navy to blockade the ports of 
an enemy, there is now a nation of decreasing wealth 
whose own ports can be blockaded. 

The modern statesman must take this position 
as he finds it. He cannot change it. It is his 
terrible inheritance. With such a background to 
his foreign policy he dare not make wanton 
enemies whose ill will must adversely affect the 
nation s trade. 

The change to an industrial State dependent upon 
foreign supplies for the sustenance of a crowded 
population was not quick. Discussing British 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 17 

industry as late as 1851, Professor Clapham* says 
of it: 

Britain had turned her face towards the new industry 
the wheels of iron and the shriek of the escaping steam. In 
them lay for the future not only her power and wealth, but 
her very existence. She must take the risks of the "industry 
state/ which lives by the export of its manufactures, 
because she could do no other. Many Englishmen bore those 
risks proudly, like the industrial free traders of the North. 
Most bore them ignorantly, seeing to-day s cheaper loaf or 
to-morrow s good balance sheet. Educated men of the older 
country stocks were apt to shoulder them with reluctance, 
regretting that not ill-adjusted life of town and country 
which was passing away. Those who had followed Peel with 
open eyes, like Sir James Graham, had done so because 
population was growing "at the rate of 300,000 per annum." 
It had been a question of time, a race between life and food. 
To such men free trade was a need to be faced, not a treasure 
to be won. 

The course was set towards the "industry state," but the 
voyage was not half over . . . 

Even as late as the eighteen-seventies, when 
modern communications had made the world one 
market, and Britain was for good or ill a trade and 
industry State, home-produced food supplies out 
weighed imported foodstuffs, but that balance was 
rapidly changing, and the increase in population, 
mostly dependent on imported raw materials for the 
means of livelihood, was increasing at enormous 
proportions each year. England and Wales that 
in 1801 had had under 9,000,000 to feed and 
house, had approximately 18,000,000 in 1851, nearly 

"" Economic History of Modern Britain/ Vol. 2. 



i8 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

30,000,000 in 1891, over 36,000,000 in 1911 and 
nearly 39,000,000 in 1921. 

By the beginning of the eighteen-nineties a huge 
balance of payments in Britain s favour was necessary 
to pay for the absolute necessaries of existence. 

To those unacquainted with the processes of trade 
this may seem a foolish statement. Surely if Britain 
could either sell goods to the value of those she 
needed, or could combine the value of goods sold 
with the value of the shipping, insurance and capital- 
providing (i.e., investment) services she rendered to 
other nations, an exact balance would suffice. A 
favourable balance would not be necessary. In 
practice that is not sound. Raw materials have to 
be bought in advance of the sale of the products 
into which they are manufactured; foodstuffs have 
to be in store and even consumed before the workers 
have produced the goods that will eventually result 
from their labours to pay part of Britain s overseas 
bill. 

The growth of Britain s trade between the opening 
years of the industrial revolution and the slump of 
1929 had increased over 110 times. 

The point to mark is this that whereas Britain 
in 1750 had sold only 12,750,000 less than she had 
bought, by 1913 the gap had risen to 123,914,413 
and last year to 432,300,000. In 1938 it will 
probably be 480,000,000. Those gaps have to be 
made good by what are known as invisible exports, 
which are the services which Britain can render 
overseas for which foreigners are able and willing to 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY ig 

pay, such as the carrying of goods, the financing of 
enterprise, the insuring of property, the entertain 
ment of tourists, and the like. 

As other nations in turn became industrialised 
Britain tended to sell less to them of her genuine 
manufactures and owing to the system of Free 
Imports which prevailed in this country to buy 
more. For many years Britain s exports kept pace 
with the industrialisation of her customers because 
she sold to them the very means of their industrialisa 
tion, the textile machines, engines, locomotives and 
so on which they needed for their own manufactures. 
She sold, that is, the means which would enable her 
customers to become her competitors. 

Britain s natural command of world trade first 
passed when her customers were equipped to make 
those things that Britain had previously supplied, 
including the means to make them. 

It was not, however, until comparatively recently 
that Britain s command of the world market for her 
characteristic "invisible exports" began to wane. 
Even when the great war has caused Britain to 
dissipate her great pools of credit abroad, London 
remained the money market of the world and British 
investment abroad continued to be enormous. In 
vestments abroad yielded an income of 205,000,000 
in 1936 and were estimated to yield 220,000,000 in 
1937. Shipping was for long an activity in which 
Britain kept well ahead of all competitors, and from 
which a great invisible export income was drawn. 
But whereas in 1914 the British owned tonnage in 



20 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

relation to total world tonnage was (approximately) 
as 19 is to 45, by 1925 it had dropped to the propor 
tion of 19 to 63 and last year (1937) was only as 17 is 
to 65*. Shipping is suffering exactly as British 
manufactures have suffered. We are no longer 
offering to the world something that the world must 
have and can get from nobody else. 

Shipping and investment income are by far the 
biggest items in the list of invisible exports. Shipping 
is not only now declining because of the competition 
of foreign nations who have put on the water cheaper 
and swifter vessels, but the income from shipping is 
declining because we are using ourselves more of the 
available services, partly from the increase in normal 
imports to Britain, but largely because of the 
abnormal import for re-armament. 

Investment income threatens to show us a similar 
shrinkage. Economic distress and political changes 
have caused and are causing nations to default on 
their loan payments. They are seizing, either for no 
payment or for trivial payment, utilities and enter 
prises for which British capital paid and on which 
British owners have hitherto drawn interest. The 
easy examples that come to the mind of varying 
defaults are those of Brazil through economic distress, 
Mexico from politico-economic desires to own nation 
ally their own mineral resources, and Germany, who 
not only refuses to honour the Austrian debt services, 
but insists upon scaling down the agreed interest on 

The actual figures are; Total world tonnage, 65,271,000. British- 
owned tonnage, 17,436,000. These figures refer to gross tonnage of steam 
and motor ships only. 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 21 

German loans made by British citizens. In addition 
to these sources of distress to British income drawers 
is a shrinkage in the national income from invest 
ments abroad caused by British owners of plantations 
and other enterprises abroad selling to the foreigner 
and bringing their money home because they fear to 
keep it in parts of the world where war or revolution 
may rob them of their possession. It may well be 
that before these lines see print, large defaults will 
have been made in the Far East as one of the conse 
quences of the war between Japan and China. 

In a nutshell, 1938 sees Britain in this position 
that she is continuing to buy more from abroad and 
sell less, and the invisible exports that should fill the 
gap in this balance of indebtedness are shrinking with 
some rapidity. 

It is not necessary to labour the fact that countries 
that in the early days of the machine age were our big 
customers are no longer big buyers, but one or two 
examples may make that fact more vivid to the 
mind. This small table, confined to the years after 
the recovery from the Great War, is illuminating. 



TOTAL EXPORTS OF BRITISH AND IMPORTED 
MERCHANDISE. 

To 1928. 1935. 1936.* 

INDIA 85,087,000 38,437,000 34,608,000 

CHINA 15,853,000 5,059,000 5,835,000 

JAPAN 14,824,000 4,138,000 3,653,000 

ARGENTINA 31,776,000 15,607,000 15,540,000 

*Latesl available year. 



22 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

TOTAL EXPORTS OF BRITISH AND IMPORTED 

MERCHANDISE continued. 
To 1928. 1935. 1936*. 

flTALY 16,472,000 8,146,000 941,000 

BELGIUM 27,347,000 13,127,000 14,159,000 

GERMANY 67,364,000 26,401,000 25,796,000 

U.S.A 68,736,000 30,109,000 36,773,000 

Omitting Italy, where special circumstances ruled in 
the years 1935-6, in every case British sales have 
fallen heavily, to fractions varying from under J to . 

The decline of British exports to these countries 
was obviously not due to the same cause or causes 
in each case. 

Countries like India began to manufacture for 
themselves in a wide variety of ways. Not only 
have Indian cotton mills proved strong competitors 
of Lancashire mills, but India now manufactures all 
the sugar, matches and practically all the cement 
she requires t . In addition, political prejudice against 
Britain affected what the Americans call "customer 
good-will/ 

China and India both found in Japan a cheaper 
supplier. 

Germany first grew poor and unable to buy, and 
then grew proud and turned to Autarchy to keep her 
purchases low. 

But in all cases Britain was handicapped by two 
factors her costs were far higher than those of her 

* Latest available year. 

J1935 and 1936 show the effects of sanctions, which cost Britain between 
8,000,000 and 9,000,000 of trade, helped to ruin some parts of the 
Empire, like Newfoundland and New Brunswick, and were utterly 
ineffective. 

|Sir Charles A. Innes at the general meeting of the Bank of India, 1938 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 23 

competitors and her- political policies were not 
conducive to friendliness in the customer. 

All these aspects of Britain s loss of command 
shall be discussed in greater detail later. For the 
moment, it is to be noted that: 

Britain s export trade has diminished and is 

diminishing. 

Britain s adverse balance of trade is increasing. 
Britain s income from "invisibles" is now tending 

to shrink. 

These things, we have seen, come about largely 
because Britain s one-time customers are now able 
to supply themselves or to buy cheaper from com 
petitors who were once themselves our customers and 
because others are now t rendering the services, such 
as shipping, which Britons were once paid to perform. 

There are the other causes which have only been 
mentioned in passing. They are: (1) that oil and 
water power, in the form of electricity, have over 
taken steam power for which Britain was once 
specially equipped and other nations for the most 
part not equipped, and (2) new materials which 
Britain does not possess have begun to supplant 
those which Britain does possess. 

To avoid argument about the effect of the world 
slump that began in 1929, let us take some figures 
for the year 1928. 

In that year Britain imported oil to the value of 
over 45,000,000. That means that instead of being 
an almost monopolistic supplier of power and lighting 



24 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

to others, she was herself a debtor for power and 
lighting to that amount. 

In that year she imported timber to the value of 
42,000,000 whereas she had once been able to 
supply from her own lands all the timber she needed. 
She bought rubber to the value of 25,000,000. Her 
aluminium import was 1,366,719, whereas in 1923 it 
was only 274,000 and by 1936 had risen to nearly 
2,000,000. 

These figures indicate the reversal of Britain s 
trade relation to the outer world compared with the 
mid-years of last century, but their significance is 
small compared with the fact that every other nation 
which now produces or uses aluminium, oil, rubber, 
timber and wood-pulps, is by that amount inde 
pendent of Britain s own types of raw materials, 
coal, iron, steel, which were once the basis of her 
prosperity. 

Britain s loss of a trading command of world 
markets is a question of hard, indisputable fact. It 
is not a matter of opinion, or of "optimism versus 
pessimism," or of patriotism versus non-patriotism. 
Political policy may, as we shall shortly discuss, have 
accelerated the pace of that loss, but policy did not 
cause it. What caused it was the discovery of new 
means of living following upon the advance of more 
primitive peoples whom Britain was once able to 
supply with manufactures. 

But whatever the cause, the problem for Britain 
is how can the independence of other countries upon 
Britain be compensated for by new British methods 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 25 

or new effort. Britain was able to support her 
rapidly increasing population by a rapid increase of 
trade, the one increasing threefold and the other 
over a hundredfold. But while population still 
increases, trade has begun to move in a direction 
that plunges Britain deeper and deeper into the 
mire of indebtedness. 

It cannot continue without catastrophe. 

Britain must realise that her old accidental advan 
tages have passed. Many of them, like the possession 
of desirable raw materials and a favourable topo 
graphical location, have passed to her competitors. 
Others have been cancelled out by circumstances. 
But Britain continues to "live high." Her workers 
demand a higher return than the workers of Japan, 
India and Germany, to name but three of her 
competitors, with the result that the cost of her 
goods is such that customers will not buy them. 
This is not merely a question of higher wages or 
longer periods of leisure. It is also a question of the 
many amenities which are added to nominal wages, 
the free education, the lavishly laid out townships 
with their subsidised pleasure facilities, the provision 
of services for the preservation of the public 
health. 

Nobody denies that these things are eminently 
desirable. Nobody wantonly wishes to deprive the 
nation of any of them. But desires and wishes are 
not at the moment our concern, which is the fact 
that to provide high wages plus amenities there 
must be a flourishing state of trade, and that trade is 



26 TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 

no longer flourishing and cannot again flourish as it 
did when Britain was the workshop of the world. 

It will be immediately contended that a high 
standard of life for the workers en masse cannot be 
criticised while industry pays high levels of profit to 
the finders of capital. That is perfectly true, but 
industry no longer pays a high return to capital 
when the State and the Municipalities have levied 
their toll. Great incomes to-day yield thirteen 
shillings and ninepence in every pound to the State 
in direct taxation, before they begin to pay their 
share of indirect taxation and the high rates which 
local taxing bodies demand from them. 

To pay for past and present defence and for her 
various social services Britain has created a national 
debt of over 7,400,000,000 (of which over 
1,000,000,000 is owed overseas) and a local debt of 
1,500,000,000. On this total of 8,900,000,000 inter 
est has to be found as a standing overhead charge on 
British industry, a sum in the neighbourhood of 
250,000,000 a year. Our native industry has to 
find this sum before it begins to raise around 
700,000,000 current expenditure and to provide the 
high wages for its workers of all grades and categories. 
Having estimated for these sums and allowed a 
percentage for profit, it can then fix its prices on the 
basis of its total costs and not until then. But the 
goods on which those prices are fixed have to com 
pete with goods made in countries where these first 
charges are infinitely lower, where the nominal and 
real wage scales are lower, and where, very often, 



TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY 27 

goods for export, to compete with British manu 
factures, are shown some special favour by the State. 

How, without the old advantage of cheap raw 
materials and a dominance of both the arts of 
manufacture and the means of transport, can Britain 
hope to maintain sales? She cannot hope to do so, 
and she is not doing so. 

And in one of the main sources of income from 
services rendered, that of shipping, the same dis 
advantages are operating and thrusting her from 
the market, while the second main source, overseas 
investment, is, as we have seen, beginning to shrink. 

Where on the economic seas is this change in the 
tide of trade driving us? Whither Britain? 

It is driving us now at a quick pace towards the 
rocks of national bankruptcy. 



CHAPTER III 

THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

If wars were won by feasting, 

Or victory by song. 
Or safety found in sleeping sound, 

How England would be" strongl 
KIPLING. 

IT became possible for the British Isles to support 
forty-seven millions of people because they en 
joyed certain natural advantages, and because 
the British displayed themselves as a race of hard 
working technicians at home and daring adventurers 
abroad. The natural advantages have passed. Have 
the qualities of hard work and daring also passed? 

In political theory the British were among the 
victors of the Great War. It is true that they 
emerged with large additions of territory under their 
mandatory administration, and it is true that their 
spokesman was one of the powerful junta which 
imposed peace terms on the Central Empires. But 
it is also true that Britain emerged from the War 
with her long-accumulated pool of overseas credit 
dissipated, and ready for the greatest disillusionment 
that has ever smitten a victorious race. The illusion 
was that the fruit of victory was to be perpetual 
peace for a land fit for heroes to live in. The millions 
of men who came back to civilian life from the 
fighting services found that their sacrifices and 
discomforts had not been for the defence of some 

28 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 29 

shining ideal called Britain, or for some glowing idea 
called democracy, but for the defence of a mass of 
war profiteers ranging from naturalised Jewish 
magnates who had done well out of munitions to 
Welsh miners who had actually struck work when 
their fellows were being butchered by incompetent 
military commanders in the shambles of France and 
Flanders. Troops who had made an allotment to 
their wives out of a shilling a day felt more like 
dupes than heroes when they met their civilian 
friends who had drawn high wages at constantly 
increasing rates in the munition factories. In the 
muddle of demobilisation and the unorganised 
scramble for jobs even the cameraderie of the trenches 
disappeared. If the War had been fought and 
endured to produce and preserve post-war Britain, 
the object seemed unworthy of the sacrifice and 
effort. It seemed even less so when in 1928 the 
Stock Exchange became a roaring casino, to the 
enrichment of rogues and the impoverishment of 
honest families, as a kind of wild aftermath to the 
politicians failure to prevent a coal stoppage from 
leading to the General Strike two years earlier. 

Far from the war having brought into being a new 
and sweeter order of society, it seemed to have 
intensified the worst evils of the older years. 

It is, even now, not easy to assess the blow which 
this disillusionment dealt to the traditional patriotism 
of the British, 

For generations the British had been taught to 
revere their Parliamentary system as an ideal form 



30 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

of Government. In one generation they discovered 
that it was a system which had not saved them 
from the holocaust of war, which could not give 
them a well-ordered peace, and which in a badly 
ordered peace could not direct their energies in such 
a way that their livelihoods could be counted 
reasonably secure from one year to another. What 
was far worse for the national morale, it was forced 
upon the national consciousness that the system not 
only did not render elementary* social justice, but 
actually needed injustice for its continuance. 

It was undoubtedly this realisation that accounted 
for the swing of the younger generations to senti 
mental Socialism and to Communism, a swing of 
allegiance which produced eventually the famous 
vote of the Oxford Union against fighting for King 
and country. But Socialism, with its denial of 
rewards for enterprise and its threat of placing 
incompetents in command of essential services, was 
so alien to the ingrained tradition of the race that it 
could not command the imagination of those who 
thought about politics rather than felt about social 
inequity. 

Disgusted with the ineptitudes and hypocrisies of 
the old-fashioned Parliamentary democracy as con 
ducted under the party system, large bodies of young 
men and young women cried, "a plague on all your 
houses/ and turned to other interests. Why should 
they worry and fret about politics if the end of all 
their mental wear and tear was only to be the return 
to Parliament of the same old types of caucus 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 31 

candidates, some as the delegates of trade unions and 
some as the attaches of great commercial interests and 
some as mere social or economic climbers. It was un 
fortunate for Britain that this mixture of moods came 
at a time when our economic development was ruining 
the prospects of individual enterprise. The big cor 
porations were driving out of the competitive field the 
small entrepreneur, and supposedly beneficent but 
short-sighted legislation was making it difficult, if 
not impossible, for young citizens with little or no 
capital to start businesses of their own. 

Among the rank and file of the workers the 
institution of labour exchanges allied to unemploy 
ment relief was killing the old principle that every 
man is responsible for finding his own livelihood and 
was confirming the much more comfortable belief 
that the State must tend its citizens either by finding 
for them acceptable work or providing the means of 
subsistence. 

^ With the glory gone from war and much of the old 
excitement gone from peace, it was little wonder that 
the vicarious thrills of the cinema screen drew young 
people away from the more personal preoccupations 
of their fathers. 

Boom and slump seemed beyond the wit of man to 
control, so why worry to be ambitious? The League 
of Nations and a thing called Collective Security were, 
together, to keep the country safe from attack, so why 
worry about amateur soldiering in the Territorials? 
Successive candidates at successive elections pro 
mised more and more free amenities from the public 



32 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

purse, so why worry to be personally industrious, 
since these things would rain down upon the active 
and inactive alike? 

Emigration was no longer possible to ardent 
spirits. 

Thus it was that a vast pall of apathy and lethargy 
wrapped the nation. "What is the use of effort? 
work, and debt, and disappointment have us in a 
net," was the general mood, a mood baffling to those 
who had lived a large part of their own adult lives 
before the crash of 1914. 

The chief symptom of this mood was and is a 
complete abandonment of the -old respect for the 
institution of Parliament. 

This contempt for Parliament was beginning to 
show itself in many quarters before the War of 1914, 
but it only became fairly general in the two decades 
following the Treaty of Versailles, during which it 
became more and more frequently demonstrated that 
as a machine of Government Parliament was in 
adequate for its functions and as a method of Govern 
ment it had become perverted and therefore 
dangerous. 

The reasons for this inadequacy and perversion are 
not hard to state. 

Of these reasons the first is that the whole nature of 
Parliament has changed although its name and out 
ward forms have not changed. The original purpose 
of a gathering of the Commons was to talk about 
taxation. In the early days of our Parliamentary 
institutions there was a permanent council which 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 33 

consisted of the important men of the State, who, 
with the King, debated the needs of the time and 
made the laws. These important men were the 
Nobles and Bishops. They approximated to what 
to-day we call the House of Lords. In addition to 
this Council on special occasions the voices of the 
Free Men and the lower Clergy were solicited, and as 
these two bodies were large in numbers they chose 
representatives to speak for them. 

"On rare occasions, this expanded Council when 
summoned, finding itself in the presence of the 
Government, would talk of other things than taxa 
tion. If the State was in peril, for instance, the 
representatives might council a remedy. But taxa 
tion was the main object of their coming. For the 
twin conceptions of private property and of liberty 
were, in the Middle Ages, so strong that our modern 
idea (which is the old Roman idea) of a tax being 
imposed arbitrarily by the Government, and being 
paid without question, was abhorrent to those 
times. A tax, for the men of the Middle Ages, was 
essentially a grant. The Government had to go to 
its subjects and say: We need for public purposes so 
much; can you meet us? What can you voluntarily 
give us? "* 

The Commons, that is to say, met to decide how 
much they would allow the State from their own 
stores. To-day the House of Commons meets, as 
regards taxation, to decide how much a Chancellor of 
the Exchequer shall be allowed to take from the 

*"The House of Commons and Monarchy," H. Belloc. 1920. 



34 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

people at large. The difference of principle is vital. 

Between the accession of Henry IV in 1399 and the 
Reformation political events in England changed the 
whole character of the nation. The Free Men and 
the lower Clergy decreased in power and importance, 
and the squires and merchants became correspond 
ingly powerful. By the time of the Stuarts the House 
of Commons was not only not a gathering of the true 
commons of England, it was not the old occasional 
summoning of representatives to discuss taxation. 
It had become a permanent institution with a special 
characteristic. That special characteristic was that 
it consisted of rich men who disputed the power of the 
King, and who were of a type trained in the art of 
Government by their normal avocations. The very 
word Statesman which we now apply to a professional 
politician who by luck or cunning has attained to a 
seat in the Cabinet then meant a man who owned and 
managed an Estate, a meaning it still bears in some 
remote northern counties of England. 

From shortly after the Reformation until the later 
years of the eighteenth century the House of 
Commons was, in fact, but not in name, an aristo 
cratic instrument of Government. It worked well 
for that very reason, because those exercising its 
chief functions were men of special education and 
training. They were men who could wilfully put 
the good and preservation of Britain before the need 
to pander to the demands or feelings of any particular 
class of the community. Both the Lords and 
Commons were, in actuality, Houses of a governing 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 35 

caste, in whom the masses of the people, whatever 
their grudges might be, had confidence, and whose 
authority in the day-to-day details and the broad 
policies of government was undisputed. 

It was a very long time before the franchise came 
to be regarded as a right. In the very early days 
of the English Parliament the summons was not even 
regarded as a privilege. Mr. G. M. Trevelyan says 
of it in the days of Henry III: 

Then and for long afterwards the summons to Parliament 
was often regarded as a burden, grudgingly borne for the 
public good, much as the companion duty of serving on a 
jury is still regarded to-day. Communities, particularly 
boroughs, often neglected to send their representatives; and 
even the elected knights of the shire sometimes absconded 
to avoid service. 

Perhaps the widest cut made at the older repre 
sentation of the House of Commons was the Act of 
1430 which deprived the general body of "freeman 
suitors in the Shire Court" of their franchise and 
limited the right of voting for knights of the shire 
to the forty shilling freeholders. This Act was 
passed to exclude all but the gentry from Parliament 
and had the effect of greatly increasing the power of 
the Nobility, with the unforeseen result that Parlia 
ment was allowed to wax strong and eventually to 
override the Nobility themselves. 

It is our pleasant theory that the Reform Bill of 
1832 made the aristocratic Commons into a demo 
cratic institution. In a work so widely read as 
H. G. Wells "Outline of History" the chronological 



36 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

table solemnly puts against that date that The first 
Reform Bill in Britain restored the democratic 
character of the British Parliament." The truth is 
that the House had never been democratic in 
character, and all the Reform Bill did was to extend 
the franchise to a few of the more trustworthy middle 
classes. The giving of the vote to the 10 house 
holders and the tenant fanners, and the sweeping 
away of the Rotten Boroughs in favour of the new 
industrial townships, certainly led the way to later 
extensions of the franchise, but in themselves they 
did not alter the character of Parliament, which 
remained essentially the instrument of a specially 
educated and trained governing caste, with little 
responsibility to its constituents. 

Throughout the prosperous and imperialistic years 
of the nineteenth century Britain grew rich and great 
not because her Parliament was democratic, but 
because it was not democratic. She prospered not 
because the will of the people prevailed, but because 
the will of a certain oligarchy prevailed. 

By 1832 the governing caste could afford to widen 
the franchise, for in the eighteenth century almost 
by accident, as is the English way there had 
developed a system of Government which robbed 
the House of Commons of much of its power and 
significance. This system we call to-day Cabinet 
Government. Lest I should be suspected of pre 
judice in describing it I will again borrow a few 
sentences from G. M. Trevelyan, sentences which 
demand to be carefully pondered: 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 37 

It is doubtful whether nobles and squires would ever 
have consented to concentrate such powers in the Lower 
House, if they had thought of it as a strictly popular body. 
But they thought of it as a House of gentlemen, many of 
them nominees or relations of the Peerage, as the "best club 
in London/ as the "Roman Senate" to which the highest 
interests of the country could be safely committed. 

Under these conditions the aristocratic Eighteenth 
Century made a great contribution of its own to the growth 
of British political tradition. The aristocrats devised the 
machinery by which the legislature could control the 
executive without hampering its efficiency. This machinery 
is the Cabinet system and the office of Prime Minister. 
The Cabinet system is the key by which the English were 
able to get efficient government by a responsible and united 
executive, in spite of the fact that the executive was subject 
to the will of a debating assembly of five or six hundred men. 

The British Cabinet, from the days of Walpole 
until the very dawn of last century, remained 
essentially an aristocratic body, and a small body. 
Huskisson, who entered the Cabinet in the 1820 s, 
was not in the strictest sense of the word an aristo 
crat, nor was Peel, but both, like Gladstone who 
followed them, were of the moneyed class and 
underwent the aristocratic schooling at a great 
public school and Oxford University. Disraeli was, 
perhaps, the first genuine non-aristocrat to become 
Prime Minister, but even he had to assume the role 
and the status of a country gentleman, to which the 
Bentincks helped him. 

By far the most sweeping change in the character 
of Parliament that occurred in the 



38 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

century was that inaugurated by the Act of 1884, of 
which R. H. Gretton* rightly and succinctly says: 

. . . the Bill swept away the old property limitations of the 
vote in country places, and gave it, as in the boroughs, to 
the occupiers of rated dwelling houses. It thus enfranchised 
the labourer; arid the change, both in the number and in the 
educational level of the electorate, was great. 

With this Act the dykes were down. There was 
still a pretence at a property qualification for the 
right to vote, but the way was open to later Acts 
that gave the vote to men and women indis 
criminately. By some curious twist in the British 
mentality, the extension of the franchise was mixed 
in the mind with the idea of liberty. In 1843 
Carlyle derided 

the notion that a man s liberty consists in giving his vote 
at election hustings, and saying, "Behold, I, too, now have 
my twenty-thousandth part of a Talker in our National 
Palaver," 

but in our time even that boast is moderate in its 
folly, for the voter to-day can often only claim a 
fifty-thousandth part in one Talker in an assembly 
of 615 members. 

Originally the vote had been not a privilege and 
certainly not a right, but a function. After 1884 it 
became a right, and Parliament was elevated into 
the bulwark of the people s liberty. Those who grow 
hysterical about Parliamentary Democracy should 
examine carefully the value of the right to vote and 
the strength of the bulwark to their supposed liberty. 

*"A Modern History of the English People." 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 39 

When, every few years, generally at the choice of 
some "party manager/ the British free man is asked 
to give his vote to someone who may represent him 
in Parliament what actually happens? The mass of 
from twenty to fifty thousand voters in any one 
constituency is confronted by two possibly three-r- 
candidates. These candidates are chosen not by the 
constituency whose suffrages they seek but by a 
caucus of secret persons. (How freely accepted is 
the fiction that a constituency chooses its own 
candidates and how hollow is the pretence is acT 
mirably shown in a political biography published the 
very day these words are written. Mr. Bechhofer 
Roberts, in his Life of Sir John Simon, remarks 
casually of his hero s entry into Parliament, "He had 
been offered by Herbert Gladstone, the Chief Liberal 
Whip, the choice of several seats subject, as is 
always politely said, to the agreement of the local 
political committee/ ) Of these candidates it is rare 
that either is a local man or in any way associated 
with the locality he seeks to represent. One will 
probably be an adventuring lawyer, or a retired man 
of business, or what is colloquially known as a 
"carpet-bagger/ The other will either be of the 
same kidney or he will be a trade union leader, who 
will not, if elected, strive to represent his electors 
but will devote his energies to pressing forward the 
sectional interests of his fellow unionists. 

These candidates will have the task of presenting 
their views to a politically ignorant electorate for 
none will deny that the large mass of voters, including 



40 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

as it does feather-headed "flappers" and half-educated 
young men and women whose abilities do not com 
mand from society in any other department of life 
the slightest trust or responsibility. Those views 
will range over a wide variety of the most com 
plicated economic and political questions, which few 
of the candidates themselves will even superficially 
understand. As a result, on catch words and skilful 
propaganda the ignorant electors will cast their 
votes for equally ignorant members. 

Most of the candidates will owe their choice as 
candidates to qualifications quite remote from the 
ability to conduct the affairs of the State. Some 
will be chosen because of their ability to subscribe 
heavily to the funds of a political party, others 
because of their special skill in weaving words about 
the popular issues of the day. All will owe their 
election as member? to a fortuitious combination of 
circumstances which will not include the possession 
of special competency in the work of statecraft. 

When all the members are elected, the House of 
Commons which results will have no relationship at 
all to the way in which the whole mass of electors 
has cast its votes. A Party which secures, say, one 
quarter of the total votes will by no means secure 
one quarter of the seats in the House of Commons. 
It "may secure more; it may secure less. In one con 
stituency of 40,000 voters a member of the Blue 
Party may win by securing 21,000 votes against his 
opponent s 19,000. In the next constituency of 
40,000 members the Blue candidate may win by 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 41 

securing 30,000 against his opponent s 10,000. One 
has a majority of 2,000 votes, the other of 20,000. 
One in the House of Commons will speak for 30,000 
and the other for 19,000, but in the two constituen 
cies together 29,000 voters will have no spokesman. 

As a rough and ready method of ascertaining the 
views of the nation this method, with all its electoral 
accidents, may have much to be said for it, but one 
thing cannot be said for it it is not a method by 
which representative government is attained, nor 
would it be so even if the candidates were genuinely 
chosen by the electors instead of being foisted upon 
them by remote caucuses in the Capital. 

Indeed, so little is genuine representative govern 
ment trusted that no man or woman may cogie 
forward as a candidate unless he or she Js j^repared 
to deposit a sum of money to be forfeited unless 
a minjiawn number of votes is obtained. This 
deposit system is applauded as a means of keeping 
the polls free from cranks and penniless adventurers, 
as if under a democratic system cranks and ad 
venturers without money had not as much right to 
ask for votes as cranks and adventurers with money ! 

In Constitutional Theory the King entrusts the 
Government of the country to a statesman whom he 
selects for the task. This statesman gathers round 
him a number of colleagues, of whom the King 
approves. These form the Government, the holders 
of certain Offices of State comprising the Cabinet. 
The Government must submit its legislative pro 
posals and its suggested taxes to the House of 



42 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

Commons. The House debates and amends the 
proposals in the form of Bills, and passes them 
except for money Bills to the House of Lords. The 
Upper House also debates and amends, and, if 
necessary, passes back the amended Bill for approval. 
When both Houses are satisfied, the Bill goes to the 
King for the Royal Assent and becomes law, there 
after to be interpreted in the Courts by lawyers. 

The process of debate and amendment is neither 
simple nor speedy. It involves, as every schoolboy 
knows, the procedure of drafting and then intro 
ducing the Bill, which must pass First and Second 
Reading, Committee and Report Stages, and Third 
Reading. The time devoted to its consideration and 
discussion is cut into by many other calls upon the 
time of Parliament, and the need to end debates at 
a particular hour. 

When there is disagreement upon any point under 
discussion the House divides itself, and the yeas file 
patiently through one Lobby, the nays through 
another, so that they may be counted, the whole 
business of the House being at a standstill while this 
is done. 

There is no distinction between kinds of business; 
all must occupy the time of the whole House, except 
when the Bill under discussion is referred to Com 
mittee. Thus some matter of local importance only 
to Sutherlandshire or Cornwall may hold back 
business vital to the whole Empire. 

It will be readily realised that the machinery of 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 43 

Parliament, which was evolved if machinery can be 
said to evolve over many centuries, was perfectly 
adequate for its purpose when the Commons con 
sisted of men of special experience and education, 
elected by a small minority of similar men with a 
definite personal economic stake in the country, 
whose chief business it was to discuss what the 
country could afford to find in the way of funds for 
the purposes of the State or, occasionally, to discuss 
broad principles of Government. But that machinery 
was wholly unsuited to control by men called from 
quite other avocations to the full conduct of the 
political and economic life of the country and de 
pending for their political existence upon the votes 
of great masses of people who had no knowledge of 
either politics or economics. 

Once the scope of business in the Commons 
widened, and the duty of Government was no longer 
confined to "securing the enforcement of contracts 
and the preservation of law and order," the methods 
and procedure of Parliament were far too leisurely. 
As Hugh Chisholm says of early Parliaments, "it 
must never be forgotten that in these early times, 
and indeed long after, the making of new laws is as 
abhorrent as it is rare. The cry of the nation, so 
often expressed in the charters, is not for the making 
of a new law but for the preservation of old ones, 
while the levying of taxes is almost unknown except 
for the purposes of national defence/ The attempt 
to apply the leisurely machinery which was shaped 
for such purposes to, the modern lust for more and 



44 THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 

more legislation has never been successful. It has 
caused Parliament to fall into disrepute and has 
gravely hampered the material progress of the nation. 

Once Parliament, designed for the use of a select 
and responsible governing caste, fell into the hands of 
demagogues it was bound to become mischievous, 
and its perversion was aided by the loss of its prestige 
caused by the payment of Members and various 
scandals, of which the downfall of Jabez Balfour, 
Horatio Bottomley and other less rogues and the 
Marconi case are examples. Not the least of the 
blights which followed the invasion of Parliament 
by the demagogues was the wholesale bribery of 
electorates with promises of public benefits. The 
old-fashioned bribery of an elector by a payment for 
his vote was an abomination, but it was an abomina 
tion that could be detected and punished. The new- 
fashioned method of bribing great masses of voters 
by promising to their class or section some benefit 
at the public expense is not even stamped as an 
abomination, so low has Parliamentary Democracy 
brought the public morals of the country. 

To the justification of these denunciations of the 
system the pages of this book are devoted. But 
there is one denunciation even more deadly which 
is also to be justified by an examination of recent 
events. It is that not only can a country so governed 
not compete for the livelihood of its inhabitants with 
other countries whose governments are of a different 
kind, but that a country relying on an out-moded, 
inept and corrupt Parliamentary system cannot arm 



THE PERVERSION OF PARLIAMENT 45 

itself against the possible attacks of its avaricious 
neighbours. 

Attachment to Parliamentary Democracy, which, 
despite popular delusion, had never any connection 
with popular liberty, threatens us with economic 
disaster and prevents our sound defence against 
military defeat and destruction. If we are to avoid 
these dooms the system must either be drastically 
amended or completely abandoned in favour of 
some other system. 

With that amendment or abandonment there must 
come a new national mode of life, for in the follies 
and flaws of Parliamentarianism is to be found at 
once a symptom and a cause of the easy-emotionalism 
and refusal to face facts that make the British to-day 
appear decadent in a Continent where new forces are 
moulding other nations to a new virility. That 
virility we must match or perish. 

But virility is only of value if it can express itself in 
prompt action, and to our obsolete Parliamentary machine 
prompt action is not possible* 

A change in the national temper and a reform of 
the system of Government are both essential, but 
neither alone can save us from the perdition to which 
we now race. They must be achieved together. 

The first means to that double achievement is that 
we should see things clearly and give them their 
proper names, refusing to call a muddled and un 
democratic system by the word "democracy" and 
refusing any longer to condone a national lassitude by 
Calling it "liberty." 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 

Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight, 
But Roaring Bill, who killed him, thought it right. 

H. BELLOC. 

THE first need that life lays on its creatures is 
that of finding the means of life. The master 
member is not the heart or the head, but the 
belly. Until that is satisfied all spiritual and cultural 
aspirations must wait. It is so with men; it is so 
with nations. An individual man, in some mood of 
high heroism, may prefer to perish rather than be 
baulked of some aspiration, but no statesman has a 
right to drive a nation to its doom for the sake of 
some aspiration which he, personally, or he and some 
group of adherents, may hold more dear than survival. 
It is the realisation of this which must be the 
touch-stone of all policy. 

Hatred of war, dislike of the economic waste of 
piled up armaments, and of the regimentation of 
daily life these are emotions shared by all civilised 
people. But if the prevention of war is only to be 
found in adequate defensive arms and a disciplined 
community, all three emotions cannot be gratified 
simultaneously. Since war is only an extension of 
policy from the realm of negotiation to the field of 
force, and since sixty-five recognised "Sovereign 
States" must at various times find their policies 
clashing beyond the power of negotiation to reconcile 



THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 47 

them, wax must remain an ever-present threat to 
humanity. 

. At the end of the war-to-end-war there was founded 
the League of Nations. Its creation was a world 
wide recognition of the unpalatable fact set out in the 
previous paragraph. It was not an association of 
nations who thought war unthinkable, but of nations 
who thought war likely. The final sanction which it 
proposed to apply to any nation that transgressed its 
code of conduct was force. The uttermost it laid 
upon its members was a pledge not to make war after 
a quarrel until there had been a specified delay of 
months in which negotiations and arbitrations could 
be further applied. 

It promised well. Many of whom I was one 
had great faith in its possibilities. It failed because 
the fifty or so nations who composed it refused to 
apply force to those who flouted it, and even refused 
in several cases to apply an agreed general boycott 
known as "economic sanctions." They refused for 
two main reasons either that they sympathised with 
the flouter rather than the flouted or that they would 
not risk the destruction which the application of force 
would mean to their own peoples. Its failure was a 
demonstration that those nations realised that in our 
time war imperils national survival and that the first 
need and wish of any nation is to survive rather than 
to perish for an idea or an ideal. 

From the viewpoint of spiritual and cultured 
humanity it is depressing that this should be so but 
it is so, "and there s an end on t!" 



48 THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 

The failure of "collective security/ because many 
nations preferred to survive rather than risk perishing 
for an idea or an ideal, is only one aspect of the war 
risk. The other aspect is that the idea that wars 
cannot "pay" those who make them is quite a recent 
idea and is not shared by all nations. 

In the history of Germany war has certainly paid. 
When Frederick the Great applied the doctrines of 
Machiavelli and made war after a broken pledge, he 
made possible the great nation of to-day. When 
Bismarck, by doctoring a telegram, forced the war of 
1870, the third campaign in six years, he crowned the 
work of Frederick by crowning a Prussian king as 
German Emperor. 

From the viewpoint of Christian morality the 
Prussian wars of the eighteenth century, including, 
as they did, three robberies of Poland, were indefens 
ible. The war with Denmark in 1864, the war with 
Austria in 1866 and the war with France in 1870 had 
a justification that Frederick s campaigns lacked 
they were aids to survival as well as gratifications of 
expansionist ambition. 

Indeed, in the political philosophy of mankind 
before 1918 , few would have been prepared to 
contest the argument that expansion itself was 
an aid to survival. Britain least of all could 
dispute that contention without hypocrisy, for 
Britain, like Germany, had found that war certainly 
"paid." 

It would be pleasant still to be able to credit the 
legend of one s school days, that Britain possessed 



THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 49 

herself of world dominion because of some divine 
civilising mission, but it is not true. 

It will be quite obvious to anybody who thinks for 
a moment about the chances of history that Great 
Britain was by no means predestined for her present 
position as one of the seven major Powers of the 
world. She might have remained a small island 
kingdom, with an appropriately low population, 
living very much as Sweden lives. She might have 
been annexed by some other Power, and was, indeed, 
once described in the French Parliament as merely 
"a French colony that has turned out badly." 
Neither of these fates was hers. She became the 
Britain we know, but only by the display of consider 
able bellicosity and fighting qualities. 

Her population, needing elbow room both for its 
human surplus and its products and services, made 
itself a world Empire. From the French were taken 
India and Canada, from the Dutch parts of Africa 
and Australasia. China at the mouth of the canon 
was compelled to open special treaty ports that Britons 
might trade in opium and other desirables. Egypt 
was allowed to fall into debt, and on default was 
virtually annexed. The neighbouring territory of 
the Sudan was invaded by armoured trains and 
Gatling guns, the natives shot down like sheep. Two 
rural republics in South Africa that happened to 
contain much gold were perpetually harassed and 
finally conquered after nearly four years of war. 

As Britain grew in political stature Europe found 
that her weight was always poised ready to be thrown 



50 THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 



/ 



Zululand 
Burmah 



11 
3 
9 



years 



into the military scales against any Power that 
threatened to dominate that continent. During the 
236 years that have passed since May 1702, the 
major wars in which Britain has disported herself 
aggregate no fewer than 102 years, without counting 
other wars that filled some of the intervals. They 
make an impressive list. 
War of Succession 
War with Spain 

Spanish War 

War with France 
Seven Years War 
War with Spain 
American War 
War with France 
War with Spain 
War with Holland ... 
Napoleonic Wars 
War with America 
War with Russia 

Boer War 

European War 

Abyssinia 

Ashantee 1st, 2nd and 3rd 



. 17021713 

. 17181721 

. 173917481 

. 1744 1748 / 

. 1756 1763 \ 

. 1762 1763 / 

. 1775 1782 \ 

. 1778 1783 / 

. 1780 1783 \ 

. 1780 1783 / 

. 18031815\ 

. 1812 1814 / 

. 18541856 

. 18991902 

. 19141918 

. 1868 

rl824-26, 1873-4 
\1895-6, 1900 

. 1879 and 1880 

. 1824-6, 1852-3 

1885-91 

. 1896 



12 

2 
3 

4 

1 

12 



year 
years 



1 year 
3 years 



Mashonaland 

Sudan 1884-5,1896-9 ... 4 

Somaliland 1901 and 1904 

Transvaal 18761881 

In India against the French... 17461749 ... 3 

Afghanistan 18781883 ... 5 

(The Indian Mutiny, wars on the North-West Frontier, fighting 
in Palestine, must also be added.) 



THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 5* 

As the result of these many wars and the vigorous 
exploitation of native territories in various parts of 
the world Britain s power and wealth were firmly 
established. It was only when she emerged vic 
torious from the War of 1914-18, with much ex- 
German territory under her control, that her old 
attitude of "what we have, we hold/ ceased to be 
backed by a display of the necessary determination 
and arms to make the boast good. For the first time 
in British memory, warfare had been the business and 
calamity of the whole nation, and not the trade of a 
severely professional army re-inforced by a few 
enthusiastic volunteers. The Empire had lost a 
million men, and there was hardly a home which had 
not either felt the death or mutilation of one of the 
family or suffered hardship and impoverishment. 
Even the ancient glory had gone from war. In the 
discomforts and horrors of shell-churned mud there 
was no romance of personal combat. It was all a 
devil s mosaic of alternate patches of sordid mono 
tony and ghastly agonies. 

The demagogic politicians who had led the people, 
in the high name of democracy into the four-year 
Gethsemane were not popular. Their charges were 
restive. To satisfy the clamour there was, first, 
another, and ultimate, extension of the franchise, 
and next much talk of "open diplomacy/ "no more 
war" and "disarmament." 

Germany, held by all to be war guilty, having been 
stripped of her overseas possessions, although she 
had accepted an armistice on the assurance that no 



52 THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 

territory would be taken from her, was compelled by 
an un-negotlated treaty to disarm first. The assur 
ance was that German disarmament was the first 
step to world disarmament. This assurance the 
British believed. They, too, enthusiastically dis 
armed. 

It was not so with France and with the small 
States that had been carved out of the European 
territories of the defeated Central Empires. In a 
very short time after the signing of the Treaty of 
Versailles Germany found herself surrounded with 
more armaments than had encircled her before 1914. 
The post-treaty States had not only been placed 
under no obligation not to arm, they had been 
actively encouraged to arm. Their military strength 
was regarded by France as a guarantee that Germany 
as a military Power would not rise again from the 
ashes of 1918. 

Quite apart from any higher motive, it suited the 
British Government to disarm, because the cost of 
armaments in the years immediately following the 
War, assuming that defence would have been properly 
tended, would have been so crippling as to make 
impossible the increased social services and the great 
housing schemes and the general reconstruction that 
had to be embarked upon to give colour to the 
promise of a land fit for heroes. The endeavour of 
the money powers in Britain was to avoid at all 
costs an unbalanced Budget and to restore Britain, 
as soon as possible, to her status as the great lending 
centre of the world. It was felt, also, that the 



THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 53 

prime necessity was to free industry from as many 
burdens as possible that trade might overtake the 
lost ground of the war years, during which the 
services of five million men had been withdrawn 
from profitable employment. Not for the first time 
in our history, the material need and the moral 
aspiration were strangely akin. 

The assumption in which the people were en 
couraged was that, as Germany was disarmed, Russia 
was still in the throes of her revolution, and Europe 
was otherwise filled with pacific and just allies, there 
could no longer be any need for bloated armaments. 
If there should be trouble, the organisation of nearly 
fifty just nations at Geneva, all pledged to the 
exercise of "collective security," was an adequate 
protection. 

This assumption ignored two or three facts. The 
allies in Europe were neither pacific nor just. They 
were armed and suspicious and bulging with loot 
taken from their neighbours. 

Collective security as early as 1923 neither pre 
vented one member of the League from bombing 
Corfu nor applied any punishment for the act in the 
way of a deterrent. Thirdly, although Germany 
was disarmed there was no guarantee that, filled as 
she was with a sense of wrong at having been tricked 
into an armistice and oppressed by a false treaty, 
she would remain unarmed while those about her 
increased their equipment for war. Lastly, there was 
no guarantee that the pacific and just allies would 
long remain allies. 



54 THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 

These things were of no account. All that 
mattered was that Britain, herself heavy with the 
accumulated loot of more than two hundred years, 
was tired and, therefore, moral about war. If 
Britain wanted peace it was unthinkable that anyone 
else should want war. Militarism had been defeated 
and all was for the best in the best of all possible 
worlds. 

Britain, self-bereft of the means of enforcing her 
will, began to hector, bully and nag those other 
nations to whom the world seemed not quite so 
perfect. This dangerous habit dangerous because 
those who were affronted were themselves both 
proud and armed was allowed to flourish as a 
direct result of one of the great weaknesses of the 
Parliamentary system. By telling the electorate the 
truth about Britain s relative military weakness the 
Government would have stood self-condemned as 
having failed in its primary duty of keeping the 
country safe from aggression. The truth was not 
only not told, but something was told which was 
not the truth. 

Similarly, Britain, having been led into disarma 
ment, partly from a too ingenuous belief that every 
nation would honour the Treaty of Versailles and 
partly because a "democracy" had to be given 
sweeping social benefits rather than defences, had to 
be allowed to suppose that her lack of arms was 
more than compensated for by the protection of 
"collective security/ 

When the League of Nations failed utterly to 



THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 55 

prevent the first Japanese conflict with China and 
proved futile to prevent or stop a protracted war 
between two minor South American countries, a 
statesman who was under no necessity to keep a mass 
of ignorant supporters hoodwinked could have de 
nounced the League for the failure it had become, 
and withdrawn from it. This was not possible in our 
Parliamentary democracy because such a denuncia 
tion would have been regarded as "a betrayal of the 
League/ which would have been construed as 
betraying the dead who had given their lives in the 
last war to achieve a League which would help to 
prevent future wars. 

In other words, to the "democratic" statesmen of 
Britain the League had ceased to be a means to an 
end, which might fail and be replaced, and had 
become an end in itself. It was no longer peace that 
had at all costs to be preserved. It was the League 
that had to be preserved, even though circumstances 
had changed it from a protection to a danger. 

It had so changed for one very simple reason. In 
its inception the League had held out the promise 
that at least an overpowering majority of the nations 
of the world would at moments of menace unite 
against a single aggressor. When the United States 
refused even to enter the League, and Japan and 
Germany having entered left it, and when Italy, 
though still a Member, quarrelled violently with what 
remained of it, this hope of unity was dead. The League 
had then become an uneasy alliance of the few great 
Powers that remained in it against those others. 



56 THE FIASCO OF DISARMAMENT 

Unfortunately for Britain the two other major 
powers in this accidental and uneasy alliance were 
Russia and France. Russia was avowedly and 
aggressively Bolshevist; France was riddled with 
Communism. Against Bolshevism and Communism 
Germany, Italy and Japan had declared an undying 
hatred. As a result the world took sides as Red and 
Anti-Red States, and Britain, anti-Red in every fibre 
of the national being and the chief early enemy of 
Bolshevism, found herself side by side with the Reds. 

There was an extraordinary position Britain, the 
most Imperialistic of nations, standing unarmed with 
half-armed France by the side of a bloody tyranny 
like the Soviet to rebuke and antagonise well-armed 
Germany, Italy and Japan for displaying Imperial 
ambitions. To the foreign mind her stand seemed 
the very triumph of hypocrisy. To the British mind 
it seemed like suicidal mania. Had it not been for 
the advent of Mr. Chamberlain as Prime Minister 
there can be no question that such a stand would 
have proved fatal. It was his determination to heal 
the breach between Italy and Britain and to try to 
restore mutual confidence between Britain and 
Germany that eased the growing tension to some 
extent and, while not removing the danger of con 
flict, made it less immediate. 



CHAPTER V 

THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

"I must act according to the dictates of my conscience." 
By no means, my conscientious friend, unless you are quite sure that 
yours is not the conscience of an ass. 

RUSKIN, Fors. Letter 54. 

WHEN the historian tries to discover how it 
came about that Britain from a position of 
supreme prestige in 1918 came so low in the 
years 1935-1938 he will, surely, fasten upon two 
reasons. Under the Premierships of Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald and Mr. Stanley Baldwin the electorate 
was shielded from unpleasant facts about Britain s 
economic position, with the result that the coal 
stoppage and General Strike of 1926 were succeeded 
by the economic crisis of 1931, and in foreign affairs 
the electorate was shielded from unpleasant facts 
about Britain s military position, with the result that 
stronger nations whom the Britons had been led to 
despise were able at will to ignore and insult Great 
Britain when she tried to exert force in international 
affairs. 

When the War of 1914-18 ended, the nations which 
engaged in it had really no justification for supposing 
that they could thereafter look to a higher and 
better standard of life. Four years of trade dis 
ruption and economic waste really meant that for 
many years to come those nations whose trade had 
been injured would have to work hard and live hard 

57 



58 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

to restore it. But Great Britain with her vast and 
congested population had, if she was to avoid social 
disruption, not only to try to restore her trade but 
also to re-house her people and to find for them a 
reasonable standard of life whether they were em 
ployed or not. Having pinned her faith to what was 
called democracy she could not, even for their own 
sakes, dragoon her people to hard labour and 
hardship. Her financial statesmen felt compelled to 
lower the heavy rates of taxation which the War had 
imposed on industry and the individual citizen alike. 
Economy on arms was a godsend to them. 

For fifteen years there seemed no reason why the 
Government should not be lavish, why 20,000,000 
should not be given by the taxpayer to the coal 
miners to avert a general strike, even if the gift did 
not avert a general strike, and why unemployment 
benefits, housing subsidies, and the like, should not 
be found from the public purse without anxiety. 
When the world slump came in 1929, and the amount 
of industry and trade on which taxation was levied 
shrank alarmingly, it was easier for a Labour 
Government to continue its lavish disbursements 
than to tell its supporters that the country was 
heading for a national bankruptcy. Even when the 
crash of 1931 brought into existence the National 
Government nobody had the courage to tell the 
nation that it had been living too high. The whole 
effort was to assure the nation that new economies 
and hardships would be purely temporary and that 
very soon all cuts would be restored. 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 59 

Either the statesmen were themselves deceived or 
they were deceiving the electorate. 

There was not even an attempt by public leaders 
to invite the masses of the people to consider what 
their cherished high-standard of living meant to 
them, and whether more cheap foreign radio sets, 
bigger and better films from Hollywood, more road 
houses, a debauch of cheap cosmetics really meant a 
higher standard of life at all. Mr. Baldwin from 
time to time spoke movingly about the rising wood- 
smoke, but nothing was done to arrest the decay of 
the English countryside. British agriculture con 
tinued to decline and the British theatre to perish 
while the importers of cheap cars and tinned foods 
and Hollywood celluloid waxed fat. 

Townships that had once flourished on British 
exports, like the stricken textile towns and ship 
building cities of the North, were breeding parasitical 
and miserable communities, but what did it matter! 
Britain on the whole was doing quite well, and was 
cheered in its apparent prosperity by the thought 
that poor mutts in Germany and Austria and 
Hungary and elsewhere were struggling with ad 
versity in the shape of waves of inflation and Com 
munism against which the British Parliamentary 
democracy was so stout a protection when adminis 
tered by Britons in Britain. 

In their attitude towards foreign affairs in those 
post-war years the mass of the British public was 
almost entirely complacent. There was, it is true, 
a little bewilderment. The League of Nations 



60 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

Covenant had been presented to the democracy as an 
instrument that would ensure justice and peace, but 
statesmen still ran about the world from conference 
to conference in search of peace pacts which the 
Covenant should surely have rendered unnecessary. 
The names of such conferences were as many in the 
Annual Registers as the place names in a poem by 
Macaulay, and as pleasantly romantic. Lausanne, 
Locarno, Stresa each in turn was graced by visiting 
diplomats. An American statesman achieved im 
mortality by attaching his name to the Kellogg Pact. 
And at Geneva a British Labour leader and divers 
colleagues struggled unsuccessfully to make a success 
of a Disarmament Conference that was to implement 
at last the original promise upon which the Treaty 
of Versailles had been based, that a disarmed 
Germany would lead the way to a world reduction 
in arms. 

What the people of Britain did not realise, and 
they did not realise because they were not told, was 
that in Europe two nations laboured under a 
perpetual sense of grievance and injustice, each 
having particular cause to look with envy upon 
Great Britain. One was our war-time ally, Italy; the 
other, Germany. Italy, a small nation, had in 1922 
departed from the Parliamentary system, had begun 
to re-organise and re-arm herself, and under the 
leadership of Signor Mussolini had assumed an 
increasingly important place in the concert of nations. 
She had paid particular attention to re-armament 
in the air and under the water. Germany, until 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 61 

1933, was still an unarmed Power with her economic 
system in chaos. 

In 1923 a young Austrian named Adolph Hitler 
had endeavoured to emulate in Germany Signor 
Mussolini s feat of 1922 in Italy. As Mussolini had 
marched on Rome and overturned the old regime 
which was proving inept in the face of Communism 
and economic disruption, so Hitler aspired to march 
on Berlin for a similar purpose. His putsch was 
abortive, and he was cast into prison, there to write 
a remarkable autobiography and brood over the 
wrongs of his country. But ten years later, after a 
strenuous and troubled career, Adolph Hitler suc 
ceeded in attaining to the Chancellorship of Germany, 
on January 31st, 1933. 

Both Mussolini at the head of the Fascists and 
Hitler at the head of the Nazis had from the first 
turned away from the methods of democracy and had 
embraced the old Roman military means of or 
ganising their followers and attaining to power. 

In Britain they aroused a mixture of resentment 
and laughter. In Great Britain a Communist agitator 
was tolerated as a necessary public nuisance. Oc 
casionally one would be sent to gaol for a week or 
two to teach him that sedition was still a crime. 
That in Italy and Germany seditious persons should 
be treated either to doses of castor oil or to correction 
by physical violence aroused enormous indignation. 
At the same time the spectacle of grown-up men 
parading in uniforms and greeting each other with 
salutes and slogans seemed somehow childish, and 



62 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

the cue for merriment. The British mind could not 
realise that both the force and the uniforms had 
been necessary to the regeneration of the countries 
that employed them. The British with their re 
latively peaceful social history could not grasp the 
fact that revolutions are not to be made with kid 
gloves, particularly revolutions away from the 
brutalities of Communism. 

Mr. Baldwin, to give him his due, was more alert 
to the needs of the governing body in Germany, for 
in 1936 he told the House of Commons: 

I know perfectly well how many feel about the Nazi 
regime. I know that there are many who regard with some 
disfavour a regime which lies farther East. But let us look 
for a moment at what is the cause of this regime in Germany, 
and let us, in passing, draw a lesson from it ourselves. 
Germany lost the War, she paid a great price in the peace 
treaties, and she was left with very inconsiderable armaments, 
and we all hoped that disarmament was coming in Europe. 
I need not here go into the various reasons that made those 
conferences fail, and how the countries of Europe lagged, 
but we do know that during those unhappy years which 
that country went through after the War she was very near 
to a state of revolution. The German is naturally a law- 
abiding man, and he had a glimpse into the abyss when 
Communism in Germany raised its head and Communism 
was a creed of violence and force. It was beaten ultimately 
by another creed of violence and force, and you have that 
great people who during many years have seen the regime 
that would andUBte regime that did found itself on force, 
and what wc^^^^iat the idea of force not an alien idea 
to the T^^P^Lould seem to dominate very much that 
mentality to-day. 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 63 

The real significance of the triumph of Herr Hitler 
in Germany was, of course, that a Germany which 
resentfully assented to the Treaty of Versailles had 
given place to a Germany which repudiated that 
Treaty. Resentment was about to become 
active. 

The Nazi party repudiated the charge that the 
guilt for 1914 lay upon Germany. They felt, and 
felt bitterly, that they had been tricked into the 
armistice by the protestations of President Wilson 
and British statesmen that the war was not being 
waged against the German people, but only against 
the German Junkers and that no territorial ag 
grandisement was sought by the Allies. This meant 
that they felt they had a moral right to the ex- 
German Colonies which had thus been taken from 
them by a pretence. They also felt that to deny 
Germany the right to arm while her neighbours were 
encouraged to arm was a rank injustice. 

There were at that time two sane roles for Britain 
to assume. She could have intimated to Herr Hitler 
and the world that she sympathised with the German 
grievances, and taken steps through Geneva to 
redress them, or she could have ignored the German 
claims and prepared to protect the existing state of 
affairs by herself rapidly rearming, so that her 
wishes abroad would carry weight. She did neither 
of these things. vff 

Unarmed, she chose to scold the lotions who were 
suffering, rightly or wrongly, from a sense of in 
justice and grievance for behaving exactly as Britain 



64 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

herself had for three hundred years behaved. She 
had neither moral nor physical force behind her. 

The consequence was that from her pinnacle of 
1918 she fell to her low prestige of 1938. 

In the period of that decline many statesmen held 
office in Britain, and to none can all the blame be 
imputed. But history must certainly single out one 
man s name as the symbol of the worst and swiftest 
years of our national descent that already almost 
forgotten name, Anthony Eden. 

Mr. Anthony Eden is no longer Foreign Secretary. 
We are free to ask as so many hard-thinking people 
always asked was his the most disastrous appoint 
ment ever made in public life ? 

His career was spectacular. To many he was a 
young man of unusual charm, palpable sincerity and 
high moral purpose. But career, charm, sincerity 
and high moral purpose matter nothing when 
weighed with achievement. It is not the man or a 
particular view of the man that matters. It is his 
record. Whatever his intentions may have been 
these are the things he achieved when he was potent 
in British foreign policy: 

He converted the ancient friendship which Italy felt for 
Britain and Britain for Italy into open enmity. 

He caused the returning amity between Britain and 
Germany to turn to impatience and suspicion. 

He permitted Britain s former ally, Japan, to pass from 
a mood of extreme dissatisfaction with Britain to a mood 
of open bellicose contempt. 

Knowing Britain to be relatively unarmed, and knowing 
that the League of Nations was no longer the all-inclusive 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 65 

association which alone could take effective action, he 
forced sanctions against Italy, and thus exposed to the 
well-armed and hungry nations of the world his own nation s 
complete inability to back his brave words by action. He 
showed that "collective security," in which he commanded 
his own and other nations which trusted him to believe, 
to be a hollow sham. 

By these achievements Mr. Eden reduced Britain s 
prestige to a lower level than it had reached since 
the Dutch sailed up the Medway. 

His intentions may have been excellent; his 
achievement was deadly. 

The extraordinary aspect of Mr. Eden s work in 
reducing to international impotence the Parlia 
mentary Democracy of Great Britain was that it 
was done in the very name of Democracy although 
democracy was represented by the barbaric slave- 
traders of Abyssinia, the plundering brigands of 
China and the ruthless thugs and gunmen of Red 
Spain. It was done in the name of democracy, 
although Mr. Eden s leading co-adjutor was a Jew 
named Finklestein who, under the nom de guerre of 
Litvinof, represented Russia s most brutal tyranny. 
His friendship with Russia s foreign minister was the 
more unfortunate for Britain because his fanatical 
reliance upon the truncated League had already, as 
has been said, linked Britain in a false and uneasy 
alliance with the Communists of Russia and France, 
although the British had no temperamental affinity 
with either. 

The effects of Mr. Eden s false moves in permitting 



66 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

such an alliance to come into being were far reaching. 
The regeneration and re-arming of both Italy and 
Germany had their origin in the determination of the 
leaders of those nations to destroy Bolshevism. 
From their viewpoint such determination might have 
been expected to command the sympathy, if not the 
active aid, of Britain, for it was the British Empire 
which was the object of the most venomous hatred 
of Moscow. For a decade after the murder of the 
Tzar by the Bolshevists Britain was perpetually 
struggling against Bolshevist propaganda and in 
trigue in her own cities and workshops. 

Until 1934 the animosity of Russia to Britain 
included animosity to the League of Nations. In 
that year Russia joined the League, and Mr. Eden 
gave her welcome. "His Majesty s Government/ 
he said, "associate themselves with a step which will 
effectually assist to universalise the League by 
including the Soviet Union within its ranks. His 
Majesty s Government in the United Kingdom 
cordially welcome the addition of so powerful a 
State." Far from this entry helping, as Mr. Eden 
thought, to "universalise" the League it was the 
prelude to a succession of splits from the League. By 
the following year the only major Powers that 
remained were Britain, France and the new Red 
recruit. 

This unnatural association, and Mr. Eden s frank 
ness in letting it be known that he preferred the 
atmosphere of Moscow to that of Berlin, affronted 
those well-armed nations which had best reason to 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 67 

detest, because they had best reason to know, 
Bolshevism. This, in turn, had a singular and 
sinister effect upon Britain s safety and prestige. 

Between 1934 and 1937 Mr. Eden s Genevan policy 
achieved the almost incredible feat of depriving the 
British of their old security along their essential 
water-way to the East. In 1934 Britain still com 
manded the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and 
the Red Sea. By 1937 an unfriendly Italy menaced 
that command in the Eastern Mediterranean, an 
antagonist Fascist Spain fretted it in the West, an 
unfriendly Egypt stood at the North of the Suez 
Canal, a restless combination of Arabs and Italians 
threatened the Red Sea front, and victorious Italy 
in Abyssinia menaced the Sudan and the headwaters 
of the Nile. 

Never was a strategical position so quickly or so 
needlessly reversed by the blundering of a single 
Minister. 

As if to emphasise the impotence to which his 
policy had reduced Great Britain, Mr. Eden became 
responsible in those few years for a positive stream of 
notes, protests, and interrogations most of which 
were either received in contemptuous silence or 
given replies almost equally contemptuous. Before 
the advent of Mr. Eden at the Foreign Office a protest 
or communication from His Majesty s Government 
was neither ignored nor treated with diplomatic 
raillery. Under his direction so low did we sink that 
even General Franco, whose belligerent status Mr. 
Eden refused to recognise, could, with impunity, 



68 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

follow the example of Germany and leave unan 
swered British communications sent with a request 
for an early reply. General Franco even followed 
the example of Japan, which had attacked at will 
British ships and posts, well knowing that the most 
grudging and meagre "explanation" would satisfy a 
Parliamentary Government and an impotent Foreign 
Office that had no physical force with which to back 
its demands for satisfaction. 

These ill results came from one cause. Mr. Eden, 
as Minister for League Affairs and later as Foreign 
Secretary, either would not or could not accept the 
twin facts that: 

His own nation had disarmed while Europe was arming. 

The League, lacking the newly-armed great Powers in 
Europe and the United States and Japan, was unable to 
speak with authority to any nation which felt angry and 
strong enough to defy or deride it. 

Mr. Eden, in short, was not governed by things as 
they were, but by things as he thought they ought 
to be in a highly moral world. He made his wish 
and not the facts father to his political thought. 
Knowing his nation to be weak he was truculent to 
nations he knew to be strong, relying upon "collective 
security" to protect him. And of what did this 
collective security" consist? It consisted of a medley 
of small nations of no military or economic power 
huddled behind a Russia in the throes of a political 
purge and a France in the throes of economic 
disruption. 

There must be coupled with the name of Mr. Eden 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 69 

in assigning responsibility for Britain s abrupt loss 
of power and prestige the names of those senti 
mentalists who, at the Albert Hall and elsewhere, 
cheered on his folly, of whom the Archbishop of 
Canterbury was one of the most eminent, and of those 
newspapers which refused to tell the truth, as they 
must or ought to have known it, about the relative 
strengths of the opposing European forces. 

It may be argued in Mr. Eden s favour that he 
was the victim of the ignorance of his leader, Mr. 
Baldwin, who in May, 1935, had to confess to the 
House of Commons that on the question of German 
re-arming he had been hopelessly misinformed. He 
said: 

... I was completely wrong. I tell the House so frankly 
because neither I nor any advisers from whom we could get 
accurate information had any idea of the exact rate at 
which production could be, and actually was being, speeded 
up in Germany in the six months between November and 
now. We were completely misled on that subject, 

There was no excuse for being so misled. IB 
November, 1933, M. Mandel told the French Chamber 
of Deputies that Germany was in a position to turn 
out 2,500 machines each month. In March, 1935, 
Mr. Baldwin himself said that the British air force 
was only fifth in the scale of powers, and drew from 
Sir Austen Chamberlain, an ex-Foreign Minister, the 
expression of his belief that our position was even 
lower, and that we were probably sixth or seventh 
in the scale. Mr. Eden, moving freely among the 
most knowledgeable of Continental statesmen, should 



70 THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 

have been under no illusion, and should have left 
his leader under none. In any event, knowing 
Britain to be at best only fifth in the scale of air 
Powers, that Minister was surely foolhardy who 
thrust her into the forefront of a series of acrimonious 
disputes where her words could only be regarded as 
vain vapourings and not as serious warnings of action 
to follow. This was exactly what Mr. Eden did, and 
the legacy of his policy is such that even in June, 
1938 Sir Ernest J. P. Benn could write ruefully: 

... we now find all the fervour recently applied to the 
cause of disarmament switched over to demands which 
taken together amount to a proposal that we should under 
take war against Franco, Hitler, Mussolini and the Mikado 
aJl at one and the same time.* 

However the responsibility be allotted for British 
policy, its results remain beyond dispute. There 
remains, too, the vital question can Britain, whose 
crowded islands depend for their existence upon the 
trading friendship of the world, whose people, in the 
days of aeroplanes, are the most vulnerable in the 
world, afford to pursue any policy which leads to 
enmity among those able to hurt her irreparably 
both in the military and economic spheres? 

That is the most cynical way of stating Britain s 
problem. But quite apart from the stark need of 
self-preservation, is there any real justification for 
the enmity which has been aroused? When world 
facts and relations are viewed without any colouring 
prejudice, and considered apart from the emotions 

*"Debt," by Ernest J. P. Benn. 



THE TRAGEDY OF EDENISM 71 

aroused by one-sided propaganda, is it possible that 
the role which Britain was compelled to play until 
Mr. Chamberlain s advent to power was not only 
wrong-headed but wrong-hearted? 

It is, at least, the duty of every Briton to search 
anxiously and sincerely for the right answer to that 
question, and the answer can only be found by 
reviewing, without heat, the events which have led 
us to our present situation. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

Philanthropists may easily imagine that there is a skilful method of 
disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and 
that this is the proper tendency of the Art of War. However plausible 
this may appear, it is still an error which must be extirpated; for in such 
dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of 
benevolence are the worst. VQN CLAUSEWITZj On Way> Book ^ 

THERE are two views about the first and 
essential duty of a Government. One is that 
it must, at all costs, strive to keep the country 
it governs safe and prosperous. The other is that it 
must strive, even to the detriment of its own people, 
to enforce its own particular morality upon the 
world at large. This difference could be more 
unkindly expressed by saying that some people think 
the duty of a Government is to mind its own business, 
others that its duty is to meddle in everybody s 
business. But both will agree that to do either duty 
successfully the Government must first be strong, 
morally strong and physically strong. 

In the years 1934-35 Britain, in a mood of ex 
halation, aspired to be the moral mentor of the 
world. The occasion of this aspiration was the 
punitive attack by Italy upon the Abyssinians. The 
instrument was the League of Nations. 

It would be foolish and useless to deny that at the 
time the great bulk of the British people believed 
that the aspiration was right, the Italian attack was 

wrong, and the instrument was sound. The Italian 

72 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 73 

people believed that the aspiration was a piece of 
rank hypocrisy, the Italian attack was right, and the 
instrument was despicable. 

To discover how these opposite views could be 
sincerely held it is necessary to retell, however 
familiar the story may be, the history of Britain and 
Italy in Africa. 

Italy first effected a footing in Africa during the 
international scramble for territory there which filled 
a large part of the nineteenth century. Britain was 
busy at the same time acquiring, by armed pene 
tration and aggression, Egypt, the Sudan, South 
Africa and the two Rhodesias. Italy s acquisition was 
by a purchase of land (now known as Eritrea) from 
the local Sultan in 1689 and a lease from the Sultan 
of Zanzibar of land which became known as Italian 
Somaliland. 

As a neighbour in Africa Italy was regarded by 
Britain as a friendly power, and when in 1895 the 
Jameson Raid into the Boer Republic of the Trans 
vaal brought Britain much odium in Europe, Italy s 
presence at Assowa, on the Red Sea, was particularly 
welcome, for Germany had invited France to co 
operate in limiting "the insatiable appetite" of Great 
Britain. 

In 1889 a treaty had made the King of Italy the 
intermediary for Abyssinia s relations with foreign 
powers. In 1891 an Anglo-Italian Pact recognised 
that country as an Italian sphere of influence, 
although France, then engaged in a tariff war with 
Italy, withheld such recognition. 



74 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

Italy and Britain, it will be realised, were working 
in close amity in Africa. The year 1896 was preg 
nant with danger for both. Britain, following the 
Jameson Raid, had drawn on herself the open hostil 
ity of Germany and France. The Ministry of Lord 
Salisbury was also under the necessity of preparing to 
reconquer the Sudan. The British had thus severe 
pre-occupations in Africa. At that time the Emperor 
Menelek of Abyssinia grew angry at Italy s possessing 
a protectorate over the Somali coast. He accused 
Italy of tampering with his rebel vassals, and com 
pelled an Italian garrison to surrender. He then 
made overtures for peace on terms which Italy found 
unsatisfactory. The Italian General, Baratieri, re 
jected these advances and attacked the Abyssinian 
.force of 100,000 men at Adowa with an Italian army 
of only 14,500. He was completely defeated. Many 
of the prisoners taken by the Abyssinian tribesmen 
were held for over a year and subjected to horrible 
mutilations, the story of which still chills the Italian 
memory. 

As a result of this debacle Italy was forced to sign 
a treaty recognising the independence of Abyssinia. 
Her loss of the protectorate was the more bitter 
because Britain, France, Germany and Portugal had 
all done well out of the partition of Africa. Even 
Belgium had the Congo. The loss of her protectorate 
naturally left Italy with exactly the feelings that 
Britain had had when Gordon was murdered in the 
Sudan, not a great many miles away . But whereas the 
British had sent an expedition, with the grim visaged 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 75 

Kitchener at its head, and had destroyed the 
Mahdi, Italy took no such action. Britain, in fact, 
had done more than avenge the slaughter of Gordon 
at Khartum. She had sent about his business a 
French commander who had marched across Africa 
to Fashoda, brooking no question of her possession 
whether from Frenchmen or Fuzzy-wuzzy. Italy 
was more patient, and waited for a generation until 
both French and British had made economic head 
way in the very land where Italian troops had been 
slain and tortured. 

Throughout the years that followed the Italo- 
British amity was unimpaired, and Britain continued 
to recognise Abyssinia as an Italian sphere of 
influence. 

When the war of 1914 broke out Italy, in its second 
year, severed herself from the Triple Alliance and 
joined the Allies. Her change of allegiance was not 
disinterested, and there was no reason why it should 
have been. She joined the Allies on certain specific 
promises, all of which were solemnly engrossed in the 
Treaty of London. Of that Treaty Article XIII 
promised that: 

In the event of France and Great Britain increasing their 
colonial territories in Africa at the expense of Germany, 
these two Powers agree in principle that Italy may claim 
some equitable compensation, particularly as regards the 
settlement in her favour of the questions relative to the 
frontiers of the Italian colonies of Eritrea, Somaliland 
and Libya. 

There are two queer aspects of this Article. One is 
that Britain, whose pride and boast it was that she 



76 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

sought no territorial aggrandisement from the War, 
should have contemplated as early as 1915 taking 
possessions in Africa from Germany. The other is 
that having made such a promise in the early days of 
the year she should in the final settlement have 
broken it. 

Both France and Britain benefited in African 
territory at the expense of Germany, but Italy to 
use a word that is ugly but right was "bilked." 
It is no explanation of that bilking that the posses 
sions taken from Germany were called Mandated 
Territories and not Colonial possessions. 

This breach of faith over the Treaty of London was 
not to be the last of Italy s grievances about 
Abyssinia. On December 14th and 20th, 1925, the 
Baldwin Government in Britain exchanged notes with 
Italy. By this exchange of notes Britain promised 
that, in return for Italian support in obtaining from 
the Abyssinians a concession to build a barrage on 
Lake Tana and a motor road from the Sudan to that 
lake, Britain would support an Italian request for a 
railway from Eritrea to Somaliland to the West of 
Abyssinia s capital and would "support with the 
Abyssinian Government all Italian requests for 
economic concessions" in the zone covered by that 
railway. 

In the light of after events the result of this ex 
change of notes was not without humour. Abyssinia 
protested to both Britain and Italy, saying to 
Britain, "we should never have suspected that the 
British Government would come to an agreement 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 77 

with another Government regarding our lake!" 
She then referred the matter to the League of 
Nations, to which she had been admitted in Septem 
ber, 1923, despite Britain s opposition based on 
the belief that Abyssinia was unable to fulfil her 
obligations. 

In 1928 the then Regent of Abyssinia, later to 
become the Negus, signed a Pact of twenty years 
friendship with Italy, both Governments agreeing 
not to have recourse to armed force. Despite this 
agreement Italy was subject to armed force by the 
Abyssinians. In the winter of 1934 the Italian 
consulate at Gondar was attacked. For this un 
provoked assault the Italian Government demanded 
and received both apology and reparation, as Britain 
had done for Abyssinian raids and assaults in the 
Sudan two years previously. But within a very few 
weeks a much more serious incident occurred at 
Wal-wal. 

With the Wal-wal incident began the Italo- 
Abyssinian episode in which Britain was to play so 
strange and ignominious a part. As that incident 
progressed the British public was led, or allowed, to 
picture the Abyssinians as a peaceful, inoffensive 
people brutally attacked by an avaricious European 
Power* No picture could have been further from the 
truth. It was the European Power which had been 
attacked and had its nationals assaulted and its flsg 
insulted by armed men, the subjects of a ruler who 
had pledged himself not to use armed force against 
Italy. Abyssinia was a hot-bed of slavery and a 



78 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

cockpit of racial and religious quarrels between bar 
baric tribes, and the Negus as Britain had well 
foreseen was utterly unable to fulfil his obligations. 

When the Sudanese had outraged Britain Sir 
Herbert Kitchener had mown down some 10,000 
dervishes with machine guns at Omdurman. Italy 
did not follow that relatively recent example. She 
had twice, from her viewpoint, been cheated on 
British promises about territory in Abyssinia for 
that is what "adjusted frontiers" means and econo 
mic concessions in that country. She had without 
protest from Britain demanded and received repara 
tion and apology for the Gondar incident. She had, 
in concert with Britain, skilfully evaded an appeal 
to the League by Abyssinia when London and Rome 
had contemplated incursions into the territory 
surrounding what the Abyssinians called "our lake." 
In bringing Abyssinia into the League she had found 
Britain indignant at the admission of so savage a 
race into so responsible a body. Finally when the 
Wal-wal incident occurred Italian statesmen, in 
cluding Signor Mussolini, had met British statesmen 
at Stresa and no word had come from them that 
Britain would object to punitive action following the 
assault at Wal-wal, as action had followed the 
assault at Gondar. 

With all this in mind, the Italians would naturally 
expect from Britain sympathy, if not approval, in 
their Abyssinian trouble, when the matter was 
considered as it was considered at Geneva by the 
League of Nations. The Italian representative might 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 79 

well have expected Mr. Eden, for example, to say 
to him: 

The fiendish outrages upon your troops after the slaughter 
of your army at Adowa are not only unavenged, but have 
been followed through thirty years by other outrages. 
Our own promises to you of favourable adjustments in 
Abyssinia have not been kept. Through the past thirty 
years we, at least, have always recognised your special 
position in regard to Abyssinia and have more than once 
solicited your aid or taken diplomatic advantage of your 
presence in that area. Remembering our own unrestrained 
wrath at Omdurman we must admire your military restraint. 
Remembering the very recent precedent of Gondar and ottr 
own action when the savage Abyssinians came raiding into 
the Sudan two years ago, we cannot now object to your 
demanding redress for the attack on your nationals at 
Wat-wal. Your action in Abyssinia is, therefore, no diplo 
matic concern of ours. Had it been so our Prime Minister 
would have told II Duce so at Stresa. 

Imagine, then, Italy s sense of betrayal when 
instead of such a statement she found the British 
representative saying, in effect: 

Whatever your grievances, whatever your wrongs, 
whatever your pride of race, you must consent to sit as an 
equal with the dark Ethiopian who has wronged you. You 
must consent to have your cause judged by a medley of 
small nations under the leadership of Bolshevist Russia, 
who hates you, and Leftist France, which detests you. As 
for us we who bilked you about Abyssinia in the Treaty of 
London and once had a very quick way with dervishes, we 
shall assume the role of the world s moral mentor, at your 
expense. 

Having encountered a Britain in this mood, so 
different front any expectation, Italy naturally 



8o THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

assumed that there was a reason for it. That reason, 
they quite forgivably supposed, was British jealousy 
of the Fascist State. 

The Italian construction had an echo in many 
British breasts. Many people in Great Britain 
thought it desirable that the two great so-called 
"Democracies of the West/ Britain and France, 
should show to the armed and arrogant Fascist 
States that collectively the non-Fascist States were 
their masters, and could, even without the use of 
military force, dominate international conduct. Mr. 
Eden s speeches lend colour to the belief that he, 
himself, cherished this view. In other words, the 
power of the League of Nations had to be demon 
strated, Italy was arbitrarily chosen to be the object 
lesson, since Germany was too near and dangerous 
and Japan too far away and dangerous, and Britain 
was to be the leader of the new holy war. 

If such was, indeed, the intention of the British 
representative at Geneva, its failure was lamentable. 
The result of the Geneva policy was to show exactly 
the opposite of what it was intended to demonstrate, 
for it was to show that economic sanctions were 
unworkable and powerless, and that not the League 
but the Totalitarian States were the dominators of 
international conduct. 

For the arrant failure of the League to fulfil the 
work which it was supposed to do Britain has to 
bear a special responsibility. It was her repre 
sentative, Mr. Eden, who pressed forward the 
application of sanctions against Italy. France 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 81 

displayed no great enthusiasm, and before some of the 
smaller States were prepared to participate it became 
necessary for Britain to guarantee to protect them 
against loss. It is not too hard a phrase to say that 
for the support of several of the smaller States the 
British delegation at Geneva had to tout and bribe 
in a manner ill-befitting the dignity of a great Power 
alleging itself to be actuated by a high moral motive. 
The Article of the Covenant under which Sanctions 
were applied, Article 16, has four clauses, of which 
the two first are the most potent. They read: 

(1) Should any Member of the League resort to war in 
disregard of its covenants under Articles 12, 13 or 15, it 
shall ip$o facto be deemed to have committed an act of war 
against all other Members of the League, which hereby 
undertake immediately to subject it to the severence of all 
trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse 
between their nations and the nationals of the covenant- 
breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether 
a Member of the League or not. 

(2) It shall be the duty of the Council in such case to 
recommend to the several Governments concerned what 
effective military, naval, or air force the Members of the 
League shall severally contribute to protect the covenants 
of the League. 

The first clause, it must be obvious, could only be 
effective if the "severance of all trade or financial 
relations, the prohibition of all intercourse" was 
complete. It could not be complete without the 
participation of the United States, Germany and 
Japan unless Britain, France, Russia and the smaller 
fry were prepared, in the words of the clause, to 



82 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

"prevent all financial, commercial or personal inter 
course between the nationals of the covenant- 
breaking State and the nationals of any other State, 
whether a Member of the League or not." In other 
words, the sanctions authorised and envisaged by 
Article 16 must in 1935 have meant not only 
hostilities, or the risk of hostilities, against Italy, but 
also against the United States, Germany and Japan. 

It is an accepted rule in business, in parenthood 
or in schoolmastering that one should never utter a 
threat that one is not prepared to carry out. That 
rule is even more vital in international relationships. 
But Britain in 1935 was invoking Article 16 well 
knowing that she had no intention of pressing it to 
its conclusion and that, had she harboured such an 
intention, she could not successfully achieve it. 

Having led the Genevan nations to the invocation 
of sanctions, Mr. Eden failed to face the implication 
of his action, which was that: 

the severance of economic relations must be complete both 
in the sense of all commodities being withheld from Italy 
and the sense that nobody anywhere must be allowed to 
trade with her; 

military sanctions had to be envisaged in addition to 
economic sanctions. 

Unless these things could be assured, Italy could 
successfully defy the League and expose its im 
potence to the world, as she had done years before 
over the bombing of Corfu and as Japan had done 
in the Far East. 

There was, too; the very real danger that the 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 83 

attempt to cripple Italy by the imposition of partial 
sanctions would lead to war, that that well-armed 
nation might retaliate to a negative attack by a 
positive attack. Since to the Italian mind the 
imposition of sanctions meant not a moral attempt 
to prevent war but a selfish attempt to "down" 
Fascism, any warlike action by Italy would in such 
circumstances be almost certain to have the support 
either passive or active of Germany, for Nazi 
Germany could not permit Fascist Italy to be ruined 
by a motley collection of small States led by the two 
Western democracies in alliance with Bolshevist 
Russia. 

The British Government, of which Mr. Eden was 
the international personification, realised this danger. 
Britain was the dominant power in the Mediter 
ranean. She could, in theory, make impossible the 
passage of other nations* ships to the Middle East by 
naval action. She could, in theory, close the Suez 
Canal. If she applied either of these measures the 
Italian contingents engaged in the Abyssinian adven 
ture would be cut off from their homeland. Italy s 
line of communication would be severed. All would 
be over. Against such a contingency Italy would 
fight to the last shell and the last man. 

Realising this, the British fleet went hot-foot to 
the harbour of Alexandria. 

But Italy had a thousand planes and over eighty 
ocean-going submarines in the Eastern Mediter 
ranean. The British fleet was extremely vulnerable. 
Almost the first thing that had to be done was to 



84 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

clear away some of the "top-hamper" from our battle 
ships to enable anti-aircraft guns to have a clear 
field of fire. 

The better equipped these ships were to deal with 
enemy planes, the worse equipped they were to 
perform their naval function. 

To make matters worse, disarmed Britain had been 
unable to supply her battleships with sufficient 
ammunition to conduct any engagement lasting for 
more than perhaps half an hour. Her crews had 
had to be reinforced by reservists, hustled off from 
the celebration of King George s Jubilee to spend 
anxious days in floating ovens of ships that had never 
been designed for use in so narrow a sea. 

The Suez could not be closed, for that would have 
brought many enemies about Britain s ears. The 
free navigation of the Canal had been guaranteed 
by the Convention between Great Britain, Austria- 
Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, 
Russia, Spain and Turkey. This Convention, signed 
at Constantinople on October 29th, 1888, laid down 
in its first Article that: 

The Suez Maritime Canal shall always be free and open, 

in time of war as in time of peace, to all merchant or war 

vessels without fiag discrimination. 
Consequently, the High Contracting Parties agree in no 

way to prevent the free use of the Canal in time of war as 

in time of peace. 
The Canal shall never be used for the exercise of the right 

of blockade. 

The result of the moving of the fleet to the Mediter 
ranean was not to imperil Italy, but to jeopardise the 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 85 

fleet. Politicians in London talked of closing the 
Canal, but Italy and the whole world knew that this 
would not be done. 

It very quickly became equally obvious that the 
partial Sanctions which the League was persuaded to 
apply to Italy were useless for the purpose of turning 
her from her task in Abyssinia. They were useless 
just because they were partial and partial in two 
senses, that only a few selected nations applied them 
and that not all commodities useful to Italy in war 
were affected. 

Perhaps the most severe critic of Mr. Eden s 
sanction policy was Mr. Eden. The brave words of 
Anthony Eden, drunk with enthusiasm for Geneva, 
in 1935, differed greatly from the words of Anthony 
Eden, sobered by experience in 1937, when he told 
the House of Commons that: 

. . . there axe two possible forms of sanctions, the 
ineffective which are not worth putting on, and the effective 
which mean the risk, if not the certainty, of war.* 

This elementary truism he should have realised on 
September 26th, 1935, when he was first threatening 
Sanctions. There can be no question of his leader 
ship in this matter, for on September 8th in that year 
he was joined at Geneva by Sir Samuel Hoare, the 
then Foreign Secretary, who opened the meeting of 
the Assembly with a speech that specifically endorsed 
Mr. Eden s lead to the Council and later on the radio 
told the British public how impressed he had been by 
the way all nations represented at Geneva were 
looking to Britain for advice and guidance. 



86 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

The advice and guidance they received did not 
deter Italy, but did lead the world to the very brink 
of a new war. 

How near to war Britain was leading her own 
nationals one man certainly realised. ^He was the 
Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin. The very day the 
Italian campaign opened the Premier told his sup 
porters at Bournemouth that it was useless for Great 
Britain to accept obligations under the Covenant 
unless she could command forces adequate to the 
carrying out of those obligations in case of need. He 
admitted that from the world at large there had 
reached him doubts and questionings of Britain s 
ability so to fulfil her obligations, and that while 
these doubts existed Britain s word would not carry 
that weight in international councils that it always 
had carried and ought to carry. 

This from the Minister primarily responsible for 
Britain s unarmed state was a grave admission, but 
it did not check Mr. Eden s zeal for dangerous Sanc 
tions, although he himself admitted in turn, in the 
House of Commons on October 22nd, 1935, that there 
had been no discussions at Geneva of military sanc 
tions as the condition precedent of such action, 
collective agreement, was missing. 

Quite apart from any speech making by Mr. 
Baldwin there was one sure sign that Mr. Eden s 
Government at home was apprehensive that his 
enthusiasm at Geneva might lead to war. Britain 
had to ask France if, in the event of the British 
Mediterranean Fleet being attacked, her ships might 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 87 

be permitted to put into French ports. France, on 
October 4th, 1935, replied with the necessary per 
mission on condition that Britain gave a reciprocal 
guarantee for the future. 

It should bt remarked that this incident further 
strengthened the accidental attachment of Britain 
to Soviet Russia, the avowed and open moral enemy 
of both Italy and Germany. France, tied to Moscow 
by the Franco-Soviet pact, was providing shelter to 
British ships of war which anticipated conflict with 
Italy. It was not part of Britain s foreign policy to 
link the country s destiny to that of the Russian 
Bolshevists, but Mr. Eden s headstrong infatuation 
for the truncated League oL^NFations was forging 
link after link between the-two. Each link intensified 
the suspicion and enmity of Rome and Berlin. 

Why did Mr. Eden^ with the assent of his Govern 
ment, lead Britain into this thoroughly false position, 
a position which was to endanger the peace of the 
world for years to come? It is not enough to say that 
he thought he was doing right, for he must have 
known how unarmed Britain was for the responsi 
bility with which he was shouldering her. The 
kindest explanation is that he had miscalculated 
the economic strength of the Totalitarian State and 
he had miscalculated the probable duration of an 
Abyssinian campaign. 

In the second miscalculation he was in good 
company. So-called expert military opinion in 
several countries was hopelessly wrong about the 
probable length of such a campaign. In the 



88 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

September of 1935 the New Statesman in a widely 
read and much quoted pamphlet said: 

The duration of the war is reckoned by Italian military 
experts at two years: by most foreign experts at at least 
four years, followed by guerrilla fighting for an indefinite 
period. 

To say that he shared a misconception with others 
is no excuse for the British Minister s lack of shrewd 
ness. In the July of that year I, an amateur soldier 
with some little experience of mechanised warfare in 
mountainous country, published an article fore 
casting the end of the war for March or April the 
following year. The campaign actually ended in a 
decisive victory for Italy in May. The newspapers 
associated with Lord Rothermere had from the first 
insisted that sanctions were madness and that Italy 
with her modern mechanised forces must make short 
work of any Abyssinian resistance. But the general 
impression shared by Mr. Eden was that the campaign 
must drag on and that Italy in the easy slang of the 
day had bitten off. more than she could chew. 

It was difficult then to see how such a view could 
prevail; it is more difficult now. The Abyssinian 
warriors, as Mr. Eden must have known, were 
primitive tribesmen. Even the Royal Bodyguard 
marched barefooted. Modern arms were not plenti 
ful. They were not plentiful because the Negus 
feared to permit them to tribes of doubtful allegiance 
and because an arms embargo, of which Mr. Eden 
had been a supporter, allowed no free flow of supplies. 
Abyssinia, in any event, was not a united military 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 89 

nation, but a medley of undisciplined and often 
rebellious barbarians. Italy, on the contrary, was 
a united nation, an enthusiastic people. She was 
equipped with all the latest designs of tanks, planes, 
armoured cars, and field engineering facilities. To 
expect the tribesmen and pastoral dwellers of 
Ethiopia to stand long against such arms wielded 
by such antagonists was palpable folly. One 
favourite contention was that of all countries, 
Ethiopia was the most difficult to subdue from the 
air, since the inhabitants had their abodes under the 
rims of high peaks. To anyone who had studied 
aeroplanes in action such a contention was ludicrous. 
The destructive power of the modern bombing plane 
is such that not only the terror-stricken primitive 
peoples of Abyssinia but their grazing herds, their 
essential food supply, were at the mercy of skilled 
and daring pilots. 

To the relatively ignorant masses of Mr. Eden s 
fellow countrymen it seemed incredible that Britain, 
the great naval Power, could fail to intimidate Italy. 
This feeling of invincibility was nurtured by Press 
cartoons and articles deriding the Duce and his arms. 
The masses were also led to believe that Italian 
tanks and troops were shortly to be defeated by an 
act of God, who was to send down the dreaded 
Abyssinian rains and engulf them in mud. But 
Mr. Eden, as a Member of the Cabinet, must have 
known how precarious was the fleet in the Mediter 
ranean with its shortage of ammunition under the 
threat of 1,000 planes and 80 submarines. He must 



90 THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 

have known how vulnerable were the ports of Britain, 
and the lives of forty-seven million citizens dependent 
on those ports for food, should a combination of air 
Powers be goaded to attack them. It was the 
current fashion of those who, lacking knowledge, 
supported his policy to declare that he had "called 
the Dictator s bluff/ but as events proved, if there 
were any bluff, it was not by Italy. She had the 
cards, The bluff that was ultimately called was that 
of an unarmed Britain backed by a half-hearted 
League of Nations, quite powerless to enforce its will. 
All this is clear enough now, three and more years 
after the event. But in 1935 Mr. Eden did not lack 
enthusiastic supporters. A "peace ballot" organised 
by the League of Nations Union, and approved by 
His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, found 
11,000,000 zealots for the League. Sentimentalists 
of all parties found something to approve in the 
Government s policy, and Mr. Baldwin, always an 
astute tactician, found the moment opportune to 
appeal to the country. His reasoning was, no doubt, 
simple. The 11,000,000 peace balloters might be 
expected to vote for a Government that was sacri 
ficing everything to the League. Sanctions had not 
yet hit British trade very badly. The betrayal of 
India to the extremists, which robbed many hundreds 
of thousands of Lancashire workers of their future 
livelihood, was complete and no longer a matter of 
dispute. A policy of re-armament had been belatedly 
entered upon. There was, in short, something for 
everybody. But standing up to the dictators was 



THE INSANITY OF SANCTIONS 91 

the really popular line which the Government took 
to the country. 

The election resulted in the return of the National 
Government. It was true that the Opposition had 
cast for it 80 per cent, of the number of votes cast 
for the Government, but by a familiar electoral 
mischance it only secured less than 40 per cent, of 
the seats. But the Government was back, with its 
policy endorsed. It was a triumph for Mr. Anthony 
Eden. 

Russia was to enter into a new era of purges and 
the shooting of generals; France was to plunge 
deeper into the mire of economic disruption; Britain 
was to proceed very leisurely with a programme of 
re-armament, a programme so leisurely that three 
years later Parliament was to be rent by a dispute 
arising from our lack of air raid precautions. But 
Mr. Eden had a mandate to continue, in the company 
of Bolshevist Russia and Half-Communist France, 
the policy of angering, antagonising and provoking 
the well-armed States, which preferred some other 
system of Government, while he remained completely 
powerless to stay them in their courses. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE HOARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

To preserve the peace of the world is the leading object of the policy 
of England. For this purpose it is necessary in the first place to prevent 
to the utmost of our power the breaking out of new quarrels; in the 
second place, to compose, where it can be done by friendly mediation, 
existing differences; thirdly, where this is hopeless, to narrow as much as 
possible their range; and fourthly to maintain for ourselves an imperturbable 
neutrality in all cases where nothing occurs to affect injuriously our 
interests or our honour. 

GEORGE CANNING. 

> | ^HE reluctance of British statesmen to face 

1 unpleasant realities was, perhaps, never better 
displayed than in the programme upon which 
Mr. Baldwin appealed to the country on October 27th, 
1935. The truncated League of Nations was showing 
that partial Sanctions could not deter Italy in 
Abyssinia, the long effort to achieve international 
disarmament was palpably futile, for in Italy, Japan 
and Germany arms were being piled up and the post- 
Treaty States which had from the first heavily armed 
themselves were not disposed to disarm. But the 
Government of Britain announced that the keystone 
of its foreign policy was still the League, that gaps 
in Britain s defences would be repaired in the next 
few years and that at the same time efforts would 
not be spared to bring about a general limitation of 
armaments. 

When the new Parliament met the official antagon 
ism to Italy was not abated, but by the time the 
Bong s Speech was in progress it was generally 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 93 

realised that the partial list of forbidden exports to 
Italy was having no effect of any importance upon 
her campaign. Such sanctions were, like the pre 
sence of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, merely 
serving to exasperate the Italian Government without 
aiding the Ethiopians. It was also becoming more 
and more apparent that far from the Negus being a 
modern David whose sling and stones could fell the 
well armed giant, the well-armed giant was doing 
what efficient and strongly equipped people always 
do to inefficient and ill-equipped adversaries. 

At this time Great Britain chose to give yet 
another display of half-heartedness and indecision. 
Italy in Abyssinia was using a mechanised army. 
Such armies consume great quantities of petrol. 
Those who were intent upon forcing Italy to abandon 
her punitive action against the Ethiopians knew well 
that there might be some effectiveness in adding to 
the list of exports prohibited by the sanctions- 
applying nations the oil which the mechanised army 
and its air force needed for operations. 

The Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons 
that a League Committee was working on oil 
sanctions and that Britain would take her share in 
any collective action that might be decided upon. 
This Committee should have met on November 29th, 
but at the request of France its meeting was post 
poned. This postponement, Sir Samuel Hoare in 
sisted, did not imply any dissension between or 
weakening of the attitude of the sanction States. 

So far Italy had paid little attention to the 



94 THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

League s sanctions, except to protest against their 
unfairness. Oil sanctions might be a very different 
matter. There was no question that the Govern 
ments of both France and Britain were worried about 
what might follow if they were rushed into such 
sanctions by the eighteen committeemen of Geneva. 
The Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, was frankly 
eager to bring the conflict to an end before the Eden 
policy led to a dramatic widening of the scope of 
Italy s war. There was in his mind the ever-present 
danger to the ships in the Mediterranean and 
Britain s known unreadiness for war of any kind. 
So great was his growing anxiety that a Foreign 
Office expert, Mr. Petersen, was sent to Paris, there 
to try to achieve what the League and its various 
Committees had failed to achieve the hammering 
out, with the French Foreign Office, of proposals 
acceptable both to Italy and Abyssinia. Mr. Petersen 
and his French interlocutors spent a fortnight in 
exploring the possibilities, and on December 6th Sir 
Samuel Hoare, a sick man, broke a holiday journey 
to Switzerland to take up the conversations. 

His visit to Paris gave rise to the famous or 
infamous Hoare-Laval incident. If Britain is to 
shape her future policy in the light of past errors 
that incident should be studied with care. 

On December 5th the Foreign Secretary, with 
something of the manner of a fashionable accoucheur, 
assured the Commons that he was "glad to be able 
to tell the House that the League machinery is 
working well, and that the Member States for the 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 95 

most part are playing their part." On December 
6th, the next day, he arrived in Paris to discuss with 
M. Laval a peace plan for Abyssinia, and this effort 
was to be made over the heads of those Member 
States of which he had spoken, who were, for the 
most part, finding that the League machinery, far. 
from working well, was having not the slightest effect 
on Italy s military progress. 

Three days were spent with M. Laval. The pro 
gress and results of the three days talk was to have 
been a profound secret, but there is nothing either 
secret or sacred in French journalism. The very 
day that the English visitor left the capital the terms 
were being discussed freely in the newspapers of 
Paris. 

M. Laval and Sir Samuel Hoare, in their humane 
anxiety to prevent any further slaughter of the 
Abyssinians and their desire to pacify Italy and thus 
prevent a possible world conflict, were prepared to 
suggest to the Negus of Abyssinia that great tracts 
of Northern and Southern Ethiopia should be trans 
ferred to Italian rule, and a virtual economic control 
be given to Italy in the Western areas. 

We know now that those terms would have been 
acceptable to Italy and would not have been resisted 
by the Negus, to whom it was obvious that defeat 
was inevitable unless Abyssinia was reinforced. It 
was also obvious to him that the continuance of the 
war necessitated the fuller arming of the jealous and 
always menacing Rases (that is, chiefs), so that even 
had a victory been possible it would be a victory 



96 THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

leaving the Emperor with a very precarious foothold 
in his own domains. 

Had these proposals from the Hoare-Laval meeting 
been allowed to go forward, many thousands of lives 
would have been saved, the strained but not yet broken 
friendship of Italy for Britain could have been repaired, 
the Paris-London-Rome axis could have been preserved 
and the Rome-Berlin-Tokio axis could not have come 
into existence. 

The proposals were not allowed to go forward. 
As soon as the terms were unofficially known in 
Great Britain three things happened. The Leftist 
Press beat up a gale of sentimental protest which 
inspired thousands of electors to send postcards and 
messages to their Members of Parliament. Mr. 
Anthony Eden, who did not relish his work as the 
Paladin of the League being superseded by the work 
of Sir Samuel Hoare as a private negotiator, threat 
ened to resign. Mr. Baldwin lost his nerve. 

Mr. Baldwin as Prime Minister had been privy to 
and had encouraged the visit of Sir Samuel Hoare 
to M. Laval. A Cabinet meeting held on December 
9th after a long discussion and in the face of 
Mr. Eden s fury and distress agreed to sponsor 
the Hoare-Laval proposals. But in the face of 
the Press campaign both the proposals and their 
framer, the Foreign Secretary, had to go. Mr. Eden 
could not be allowed to resign, for he was the 
idol of the Peace Balloters and the postcard-sending 
sentimentalists. Mr. Baldwin decided to throw 
his colleague, the Foreign Secretary, to the wolves. 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 97 

In a speech to the Commons he came as near as 
he. could to a confession that the League had 
disappointed all hopes. One degree nearer to com 
plete frankness would have been tantamount to an 
abandonment of Geneva. The League, said Mr. 
Baldwin, was a very human fallible body. The 
difficulties of keeping it to a continuous policy were 
almost insuperable. He had always for his own part 
recognised the possibility of its failing in its earlier 
efforts to secure peace by collective security. 

It might be asked why, if the Premier had so little 
faith in the League, Britain was placed at hazard 
by an adherence to it. The answer is that political 
tactics demanded that adherence for several reasons. 
Mr. Eden, secure in the thought of the Peace Ballot, 
the Archbishop s blessing and the heresy hunt which 
had been raised in the Left- Wing Press, was making 
resignation a whip with which to compel his leader 
to abide by the Eden policy. A split in the British 
Cabinet so soon after the Royal Jubilee and the 
General Election would have had the worst possible 
effect on Britain s already damaged standing with 
the outer world, and Mr. Baldwin knew it. Mr. 
Eden knew that Mr. Baldwin knew it. 

The Prime Minister had approved the Hoare 
visit, he and his colleagues had approved the fruits 
of that visit but Mr. Eden was able to return to 
Geneva on December 12th and there assure the 
Committee of Eighteen that the proposals framed by 
Sir Samuel Hoare and M. Laval were neither "defini 
tive nor sacrosanct/ If the League did not approve 



98 THE HOARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

them, the British representative would have no 
complaint. 

This assurance was given the day before the official 
text of the Hoare-Laval proposals was made public. 
With that publicity came another and greater storm 
of protest from the Left- Wing Press and such bodies 
as the League of Nations Union, which sent a deputa 
tion, headed by Lord Cecil, to admonish the Prime 
Minister by word of mouth. What the Prime 
Minister thought as he listened to that deputation we 
shall never know. He probably did not tell its 
members that the Foreign Office had already, pre 
sumably with his connivance, instructed the British 
Minister at Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to 
use his "utmost influence" to persuade the Emperor 
to give Ms careful and favourable consideration to the 
proposed terms of peace. 

Poor Sir Samuel Hoare, still trying to restore his 
shattered health in Switzerland, had to return home 
to face a Parliamentary debate. As far as he, or any 
wise person, knew he had merely discovered, in con 
junction with M. Laval, a method of saving thousands 
of Ethiopians from death and destruction in a hope 
less struggle and of snatching back the unarmed 
British Commonwealth from the brink of a war with 
the two Totalitarian countries, Italy and Germany. 
He returned to England on December 16th. On 
December 18th he resigned. 

About that resignation there was something very 
odd. Here was a Minister who had the full confidence 
of his leader before, during and after the Paris talks. 



THE RO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 99 

In the House of Commons, twelve days before, that 
leader had said that had his lips been unsealed he 
could have dissuaded any Member from going into 
the Division Lobby against him. But here was the 
leader permitting the Minister to resign as if he were 
some solitary delinquent! If anybody resigned, 
surely the leader was the man. 

What the whole country speculated what could 
Mr. Baldwin have said had his lips been unsealed? 
He could certainly have confessed that Britain was 
in no position to provoke and sustain a war with 
Italy. He could have said that not Britain and not 
any one of the League States was ready or able to 
send armed forces to aid the perishing Abyssinians. 
He could have said, perhaps, that the French, who 
had never been eager to put pressure on Italy, were 
not prepared to march if oil sanctions caused a world 
war. He said none of these things. It was easier 
to unseat a colleague than to unseal those strangely 
closed lips. It was not Sir Samuel Hoare but 
Mr. Eden who was the pet of the Left-Wing senti 
mentalists who packed the Albert Hall to cheer 
politically ignorant clerics, who flooded their favourite 
organs of opinion with alternate appeals for no 
armament and war against the Dictators. Mr. 
Baldwin, if we are to judge him by his own remarks 
and by the action of the Foreign Office in pressing 
the Hoare-Laval plan on Ethiopia, knew the right 
thing at that time was to try to save what was left 
of Abyssinia and to repair as far as possible the 
damage done to European amity by the futile policy 



ioo THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

of sanctions. He preferred to jettison the colleague 
whose services he had employed, and approved, to 
bringing this about. This he did to conciliate in 
advance those critics who in the debate of Decem 
ber 19th might be expected to open fire on his 
administration. History will not deal tenderly with 
so flagrant a piece of cowardice in the face of so 
urgent a need for courage. 

Abandoned by a leader whose wish and behest he 
had too successfully served, Sir Samuel Hoare gave 
an explanation of his actions which was lucid, manly 
and unrepentant. Ever since his appointment to 
the Secretaryship of State for Foreign Affairs he had 
been obsessed (he said) by two responsibilities. He 
had to prevent a European war; he had to prevent 
an isolated war between Britain and Italy. The 
double duty of the British Government was to take 
its rightful share in whatever collective action was 
agreed upon at Geneva and to try to the best of its 
endeavours to "find a basis of settlement acceptable 
to both parties to the Abyssinian dispute. He 
considered that a turning point had been reached 
about a fortnight before the day on which he spoke. 
The prohibition of the export of oil to Italy was 
being considered, and oil sanctions it was known 
would be regarded by Italy not as an extension of 
economic sanctions but as the imposition of a military 
sanction, Oil Sanctions would mean war with Italy. 
The danger was immediate and the attack might be 
launched on Britain before she had the support of 
other Powers. His task had been, he considered, to 




MR. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 101 

do something which would obviate the necessity for 
an oil embargo, and to this end the energies of 
himself and M. Laval had been directed. His own 
task, he frankly said, had not been any easier by 
reason of the need to preserve the solidarity of the 
Anglo-French relationship, which, he confessed, had 
not been too securely based. This had meant that 
the British Foreign Secretary had had to make some 
concessions to the French. 

In making this speech Sir Samuel Hoare recognised 
that the proposals were now dead and uttered the 
grave warning that, as a result, the situation was now 
far more acute than it had been. The only alter 
native he saw to the jettisoned proposals was the full 
co-operation in the military sphere, if necessary, of all 
the League States. In the event this proved not to 
be the alternative. Abyssinia was permitted to fight 
on without either oil sanctions or military aid in 
the diminishing expectation of practical help until 
she reached utter defeat. 

This episode in our foreign policy had far-reaching 
effects. Under Mr. Eden s lead, Britain and the 
other League States had shown to the world that 
they were completely ineffective when faced by a 
determined Power. This was an enormous stimulus 
to the militarists of Japan and Germany. It caused 
the small nations which had hitherto looked upon 
Britain as a kind of strong defender to lose faith in 
British sincerity and strength, and to turn towards 
the Totalitarian States. 

When on December 23rd, 1935, it was announced 
s 



102 THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

that Mr. Eden had become Foreign Secretary in Sir 
Samuel Hoare s place the implication was obvious 
Britain had ceased to have a foreign policy other 
than that dictated by the resolutions of the medley 
of nations at Geneva, where Russia and France 
wielded the dominant influence. This alignment 
meant that Britain automatically became suspect by 
the anti-Red Powers. 

As Mr. Winston Churchill said, on April 6th, 1936: 
"We have managed to secure all the disadvantages 
without any of the advantages. We have pressed 
France into a course of action which did not go far 
enough to help Ethiopia, but went far enough to 
sever us from Italy, with the result that the occasion 
was given to Hitler to tear up the Treaty and re- 
occupy the Rhineland/ We had also gone far 
enough to assure Japan that as Italy had flouted 
Britain and the League in the West, the Japanese 
might flout them in the East. 

On the very day that Mr. Churchill spoke, Mr. Eden 
belatedly told the Commons that several lessons were 
to be learned from the dispute. These included 
the lessons that: 

The League, limited in Membership, is inevitably limited 
in effectiveness. 

Financial and economic sanctions cannot be immediately 
effective if Membership of the League is not complete. 

These to a normal mind were not lessons to be 
learned but self-evident truths. Mr. Eden s course 
of instruction had been costly for Britain costly in 
money, in trade and in prestige. 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 103 

He further confessed himself as not being confident 
that British action in this instance would be effective 
in combatting aggression, but he hoped it would be 
an inspiring example for the future. 

This remarkable statement was tantamount to 
saying that although your attempt to-day to knock 
down a brick wall by running your head against it 
may be a disastrous failure, it should inspire you to 
try again on some other brick wall some other day. 

British Foreign policy at this time was more than 
usually baffling to foreigners and embarrassing to 
patriotic Britons who cared for the standing of their 
country. There was, for example, another curious 
example of Mr. Eden s divided mind. In February 
he told the House of Commons that oil sanctions must 
wait until it could be shown that they would be 
effective and then earned a rebuke from M. Flandin 
for saying at Geneva that Britain was in favour of 
oil sanctions. 

Mr. Baldwin, to check growing anxiety about the 
possible effect of what the Press called Mr. Eden s 
strong words at Geneva, told his own constituents 
that he wished "to make it clear beyond all doubt 
that the policy the Foreign Secretary is conducting 
in this matter is not his own personal policy but 
the considered policy of the whole Government/ 

But what was the policy? 

Mr. Eden wanted stronger pressure of sanctions 
against Italy but could not support France in a 
desire to apply sanctions against Germany if that 
nation fortified the Rhine. 



104 THE HOARS-LAVAL INCIDENT 

Sanctions had proved totally unable to stay Italy s 
victorious campaign in Abyssinia but had been so 
fraught with the danger of precipitating a European 
war that Britain from the first had had to keep a 
fleet in the Mediterranean, trusting to France to 
provide ports if the vessels were attacked and yet 
Mr. Eden could say at Geneva, on April 20th, that 
Britain considered the League, which he had already 
called ineffective because of its limited membership, 
as "the best instrument at present available for the 
preservation of international peace/ 

What was to be made of these differing and 
contradictory attitudes? 

On May 6th Mr. Eden said in the Commons that: 

. . . throughout this dispute and the negotiations since 
the war broke out we ourselves have taken the lead. That 
may or may not have been right. There may be two views 
about it. . . 

There were two views. One was shared between 
those who months before had forecast what must be 
the ignominious result of his policy and the wretched 
Negus of Abyssinia who having taken seriously the 
brave words at Geneva was now in exile, his land lost 
and thousands of his subjects slain. 

Mr. Eden said frankly, "We have to face the fact 
that we have got to admit the failure of the League/ 
and added that "it is clear the League must go on/ 

For some reason, although the war was over, 
sanctions, too, had to "go on." The small nations^ 
like Yugoslavia and Greece, had good practical 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 105 

reasons for desiring their continuance. With sanctions 
went a pledge of mutual assistance against Italy. 
But Britons were actually being injured by sanctions. 
They had no reason for wishing them to continue. 
They could not help Abyssinia, for Abyssinia was 
already betrayed and defeated. 

Even Mr. Eden at last realised how preposterous 
and dangerous it was to subject Italy to sanctions 
now the war was over. In the June of 1936 he took 
the lead in dropping them, admitting -that they had 
failed, but blaming the experts who had misled him 
and his Geneva colleagues as to the duration of the 
war. On the 23rd of that month the House of 
Commons held a kind of memorial service over the 
dead policy. Nobody was very happy. The leader 
of the Opposition for whose support the Govern 
ment had sacrificed so much, including honour and 
Sir Samuel Hoare said, truthfully if unkindly: 

Mr. Eden stood veiy high in the opinion of the men and 
women of this country: he has forfeited that. He has had 
the difficult choice between two loyalties. He seems to 
have said, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole 
world, and lose the old school tie." 

Mr. Baldwin, who, when the National Government 
was formed, so readily parted with Sir Austen 
Chamberlain on the score of age, now tried to excuse 
Mr. Eden on the grounds of youth. "I am much 
older than he. I know the disappointment to him 
has been keen. He started with higher hopes of 
what was possible than I did/ 

The mischief was done. As Mr. Cocks told the 



io6 THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 

House of Commons, "Abyssinia has been conquered, 
the League has been destroyed, British prestige and 
honour are lying in the dust/ a sentence that led 
its utterer to perhaps the aptest quotation that has 
ever been used in a Parliamentary debate "I con 
clude with a few words used by a great statesman, 
Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, on July 4th, 
1864: We will not threaten and then refuse to act. 
We will not lure on our Allies with expectations we 
do not expect to fulfil. And, Sir, if ever we have 
the honour to act, to carry on important negotiations 
on behalf of this country, I trust that we at least 
shall not carry them on in such a manner that it will 
be our duty to come to Parliament to announce to 
the country that we have no allies and then declare 
that England can never act alone 

The real and final commentary on Mr. Eden s 
policy of sanction-mongering came not, however, 
from that long dead voice. It came from Mr. Eden, 
who said on September 21st, 1937, about Japan, 
what he should have said on October 5th, 1935, about 
Italy: 

If Hon. Members are advocating sanctions by the League, 
if they think the League ought to impose sanctions in the 
present dispute ... I would remind them that there are 
two possible forms of sanctions the ineffective which are 
not worth putting on, and the effective which means the risk, 
if not the certainty, of war. I say deliberately that nobody 
would contemplate any action of that kind unless they are 
convinced that they have overwhelming force to back their 
policy. 

Do Rt. Hon. gentlemen opposite really think that the 



THE HO ARE-LAVAL INCIDENT 107 

League of Nations to-day, with only two great naval Powers 
in it, ourselves and France, have got that overwhelming 
force ? It must be clear to everyone that that overwhelming 
force does not exist. 

The whole fiasco of the attempt of Britain through 
Geneva to impose her will upon Italy was due, it 
will have been seen, precisely to the fault which 
Mr. Eden in those words attributed to the "Rt. Hon. 
gentlemen" opposite. Neither he nor his colleagues 
under Mr. Baldwin s leadership had foreseen that 
lacking overwhelming force and a readiness to use it 
the League could only be derided by a nation 
supplied with such force and quite ready to use it. 
He had fallen into the error, long before rebuked by 
von Clausewitz, that there was some "benevolent" 
means, such as sanctions, of imposing the will of 
the League upon Italy. He had been active in 
putting on ineffective sanctions which were not worth 
putting on, well knowing that in Britain s unarmed 
state the effective sanctions which would almost 
certainly have meant war could not be put on. In 
consequence, Britain was made to look like a 
blustering but futile poacher-turned-gamekeeper. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

"That young man believes what he says; he will go far." 

MIRABEAU, of Robespierre. 

THE wild swirl of emotion which filled the 
British people when Italy moved against 
Abyssinia is understandable. Had it been an 
emotion rising from a knowledge of facts, it would 
have been commendable. The common impression 
that the Abyssinians were a simple, guileless pastoral 
people set upon by land-hungry aggressors from 
merely predatory motives was exactly that which 
would stir all the traditional sympathy of Britons for 
the under dog. There was no endeavour made to 
instruct the British masses in Italy s side of the case. 
Even when Marconi himself, the inventor to whom 
broadcasting owed its possibility, desired to speak on 
the radio to a British audience in exposition of Italy s 
view, permission was denied to him, an act of dis 
courtesy which no bitterness of political feeling can 
excuse. 

For a year or more before the outbreak of the 

Abyssinian war those publicists who had tried to 

impress on the British public that British armament 

wa s in desperate need of repair had been derided as 

alar mists or denounced as mere war-mongers. When 

th at war began the statesmen responsible for Britain s 

weakness in arms were not prepared to confess that 

108 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 109 

they were now unable to exert sufficient force in 
international affairs to insist upon the conflict being 
either abandoned or postponed. 

This inability arose from a complete misjudgment 
of what had happened to Germany with the advent 
there to power of Heir Hitler. For this misjudgment 
Mr. Anthony Eden must bear the major blame. 
From 1926, when he was appointed Parliamentary 
Private Secretary to Sir Austen Chamberlain, the 
then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Eden, had unique 
opportunities for mastering the complexities of those 
international relations and affairs with which he was 
later to deal as the youngest Foreign Secretary since 
Lord Greville took office in 1791. To him was given 
a close and intimate acquaintance with the changing 
personalities who thronged the European scene, and 
the new forces that were sweeping it. 

Despite this terrific advantage, Mr. Eden failed 
entirely to grip the significance of two historic 
moments in European history. The first was when, 
on March 16th, 1935, Herr Hitler, without warning^ 
degreed the re-introduction of conscription in Ger 
many. The second was when, some ten days later, 
he told the British Foreign Secretary, in Berlin, that 
Germany had reached parity with Great Britain 
in the air. The second of these moments had a 
significance that no statesman should have missed, 
for the German Leader told Sir John Simon that 
Germany took no interest in collective security, 
although, on her own terms, she might consider re^ 
joining the League of Nations. Had Mr. Eden really 



no THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

grasped the significance of Germany s new position 
and recovered military strength he would never, 
surely, at that very time, have concerted a diplo 
matic mission to Moscow into a kind of love-feast 
with Germany s inveterate enemy, M. Litvinof , the 
ertswhile Mr. Finklestein. 

To a Minister of State, charged with the safety 
of a whole nation, there is not permitted that free 
indulgence in personal emotions and antipathies 
which a private citizen can enjoy without responsi 
bility. The private citizen may look at the nations 
about him and hate one and love the other. He may 
retch at the bloodstained record of Bolshevist Russia, 
or be nauseated by the grim methods of Fascism and 
Nazism. A statesman charged with the well-being 
of Ms fellow-countrymen may, indeed, feel such 
emotions, but he cannot allow himself to be governed 
by them. His policy must be governed by facts as 
they are, not as he thinks they ought to be. He 
cannot afford to denounce such nations as may answer 
his denunciation by attack from the air upon the 
defenceless ports through which his countrymen 
are fed. He cannot link himself to one political 
philosophy if that means that his nation is made 
thereby the immediate object of antagonism to other 
nations to whom that philosophy is anathema. 

The very basis of the League of Nations was the 
admission by all its Members that no nation had any 
right to interfere with the internal affairs of other 
nations. Russia might hate the capitalist system of 
Britain, but she had no right to endeavour to change 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER in 

it. Britain might dislike the system adopted by 
Italy, but she had no right to endeavour by pressure 
to have it altered. It would be folly to deny that in 
Britain there was a very wide and deep-seated 
antagonism to both Fascism and Nazism, just as there 
was a similar hatred of Bolshevism. Mr. Baldwin 
realised this when he said: I know perfectly well 
how many feel about the Nazi regime. I know that 
there are many who regard with some disfavour a 
regime which lies farther East. But let us look for a 
moment at what is the cause of this regime in Ger 
many, and let us, in passing, draw a lesson from it 
ourselves. Germany lost the War, she paid a great 
price in the peace treaties, and she was left with very 
inconsiderable armaments, and we all hoped that 
disarmament was coming in Europe. I need not here 
go into the various reasons that made those con 
ferences fail and how the countries of Europe lagged, 
but we do know that during those unhappy years 
which that country went through after the War she 
was very near to a state of revolution. The German 
is naturally a law-abiding man, and he had a glimpse 
into the abyss when Communism in Germany raised 
its head and Communism was a creed of violence 
and force. It was beaten ultimately by another 
creed of violence and force, and you have that great 
people who during many years have seen the regime 
that would and the regime that did found itself on 
force, and what wonder that the idea of force not 
an alien idea to the Teuton should seem to dominate 
very much that mentality to-day." 



H2 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

In that passage Mr. Baldwin, for once, placed a 
finger on the central fact concerning the Nazi regime 
in Germany. In a phrase borrowed from an earlier 
Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin also assured his hearers 
on another occasion that Britain s frontiers are on 
the Rhine. It was a variation of the old adage that 
Britain s frontiers are the coast lines of the enemy, 
for in our days of aerial warfare the words "coast 
lines " must be construed metaphorically. By all 
the instincts of self-preservation and all the dictates 
of commonsense, it behoves a nation to be friendly 
with a strong neighbour over a dangerous boundary 
line, until and unless that neighbour actively 
threatens aggression. There was, when Herr Hitler 
came into power in Germany, every reason why 
Britain and Germany should be friendly. 

The Nazi regime, like the Fascist regime in Italy 
had as its raison d etre the preservation of the land 
from the Leftism which had made first a slaughter 
house and next a poorhouse of Russia. Both Hitler 
and Mussolini owed their political being to their 
antagonism to Bolshevism, that very Bolshevism 
which had from the first avowed its intention to end 
"the capitalist British Empire/ Far from Nazism 
and Fascism being in their origin antagonistic to 
British interests, they were the bulwarks of those 
interests. 

By a right understanding of Hitler, Britain could 
have ensured the peace of the world for generations 
to come and would have avoided the armaments race 
which is now crippling all nations alike. 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 113 

Let us look at the history and position of Germany 
in 1934 as any European statesman, Mr. Eden for 
example, must have known it to be, remembering 
always that in dealing with men and nations 
it is necessary not only to know the facts, but 
how those facts are interpreted by all whom they 
affect. 

In the war of 1914-18 the German people entered 
the conflict convinced that they were fighting for 
their very existence against a "ring of steel" which 
the machinations of foreign diplomacy had welded 
about them. In such a belief they may have been 
misled by evil counsellors, but they were sincere 
enough. They fought with a dogged and superb 
courage. None who fought against them will question 
their devotion and their heroism. They were de 
feated largely by a naval blockade which starved the 
women and children behind the lines as effectively as 
it put their troops on short rations in the field. This 
blockade was effected by a British Minister of 
Blockade, then Lord Robert Cecil, now Lord Cecil of 
Chelwood. The end of the war was not a collapse 
of the German military front but of the German 
home front. In saying this one does not belittle in 
any way the marvellous war effort in the field of the 
Allied troops or on the seas of the Fleets, nor does 
one underrate the effect of the fresh American 
divisions which were ready to pour into the line in 
1918. Soldiers and sailors won the war, but it would 
not have ended when it did, or even how it did, but 
for the blockade aided by the pressure of Allied war 



H4 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

propaganda operating on the blockade-starved civilian 
population. 

In March, 1918, the Germans were within an ace 
of winning. The Allies had "their backs to the wall/ 
By the early Autumn the tide had turned. The 
German people were being told through all sources 
of Allied propaganda that it was not they but their 
military caste, the Junkers, whom the Allies were 
fighting. They were being told that the Allied 
peoples were not fighting for territorial aggrandise 
ment, but to make the world safe for democracy. 

President Wilson, that great American idealist, in 
what became known as the "Four Point Speech" and 
in a Note containing the famous Fourteen Points, 
was drawing the German nation towards peace. In 
the September of 1918, after the failure of the big 
German offensive on the Western Front, the Foreign 
Secretary, von Hintze (who was at General Head 
quarters) prepared for his Foreign Office this 
message: 

On the strength of His Majesty s command and with the 
agreement of the Imperial Chancellor at Vienna, kindly 
inform Constantinople confidentially that I propose to 
suggest peace to President Wilson on the basis of his fourteen 
points, and to invite him to call a peace conference at 
Washington, at the same time asking for an immediate 
cessation of hostilities.* 

It was not, however, until October 3rd that the 
message was sent. In a reply received on October 
8th the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Robert 

"Preliminary History of the Armistice." Carnegie Endowment for 
International Peace. 1924. 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 115 

Lancing, asked, among other questions, whether the 
Germans accepted in full the conditions of peace laid 
down by President Wilson in his speech of January 
8th and subsequent addresses. On October 14th the 
German Government replied that it accepted the 
principles which the President had laid down in the 
January and other speeches. In an exchange of 
Notes which followed Mr. Lancing virtually asked 
for the expulsion of the German Emperor. His Note 
remarked that it was evident that the German 
people had no means of commanding the acquies 
cence of the military authorities and that the "power 
of the King of Prussia to control the policy of the 
Empire is unimpaired/ If the Government of the 
United States, said the Note, "must deal with the 
military masters and the monarchical autocrats of 
Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with 
them later in regard to the international obligations 
of the German Empire, it must demand, not peace 
negotiations, but surrender/ 

Cessation of hostilities thus depended upon two 
conditions to be observed by Germany the aban 
donment of the Kaiser and his military autocracy and 
the acceptance of President Wilson s peace points. 

If the people of Britain are to understand Nazi 
Germany, and if British policy towards Germany is 
to be soundly based, it is essential that these peace 
points be themselves first understood. They are to 
be found, chiefly, in two speeches, that of January 
8th, 1918, containing the Fourteen Points, and that 
of February llth containing the Four Points. The 



n6 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

simplest way of verifying my version of them is by 
reference to the "Encyclopaedia Britannica/ 14th 
edition, 1929, on pages 565 and 566. 

Of the Fourteen Points three are especially in 
teresting. They are: 

(3) The removal, as far as possible, of all economic 
barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade 
conditions among all nations consenting to the peace and 
associating themselres for its maintenance. 

(4) Adequate guarantees given and taken that national 
armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent 
with domestic safety. 

(5) A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjust 
ment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance 
of the principle that in determining all such questions of 
sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned 
must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the 
Government whose title is to be determined. 

The speech of February llth contained re- 
affirmations of these principles. The second and third 
of the points were: 

. . . Peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about 
from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were chattels or 
pawns in a game, even the great game, now for ever dis 
credited, of the balance of power, but that 

Every territorial settlement involved in this war must be 
made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations 
concerned, and not as part of any mere adjustment or com 
promise of claims amongst rival States. 

These points and principles were still further 
elaborated by the American President in further 
speeches, the "Four Ends" speech of July 4th and 
the "Five Particulars" speech of September 27th, 




SIGNOR MUSSOLINI AND HERR HITLER 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 117 

but the speech of February llth was the most vital. 
In it President Wilson declared without equivocation 
or mental reservation whatsoever that: 

THERE SHALL BE NO ANNEXATIONS, NO CON 
TRIBUTIONS, NO PUNITIVE DAMAGES. 

Germany was commanded to accept these princi 
ples. There is no question that the other Allies 
accepted them, for during an exchange of Notes in 
the period May- June, 1919, between them and 
Germany, they affirmed that they were in complete 
accord with the German delegation that the basis for 
the negotiation of the Treaty was to be found in the 
correspondence immediately preceding the Armistice. 
It was there agreed that the Treaty of Peace should be 
based upon the Fourteen Points of President Wilson s 
address of January 8th, 1918 . . . and upon the principles 
of settlement enunciated by President Wilson in his later 
addresses, and particularly in his address of September 
27th, 191$. These are the principles upon which hostilities 
were abandoned. . . 

"The principles upon which hostilities were aban 
doned* have been well analysed and set out by 
Mr. de Montgomery in his study " Versailles 1 and are 
as follows: 

(1) Germany surrendered on the express con 
dition that the peace terms would not be dictated 
to her, but would conform to those previously 
agreed upon. 

(2) By the fulfilment of the conditions of the 
Armistice Germany not only furnished proof of her 
unequivocal acceptance of the terms of the 
pre-Armistice agreement, but created an obligation 



n8 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

on the part of the Allies to fulfil their share of 
the contract. 

(3) Both the German and the Allied Govern 
ments have recognised the fact that a "pactum de 
contrahendo" had been concluded between them 
previous to the Armistice, and that the peace 
should be based upon the conditions of that 
agreement. 

(4) In the absence of any judicial body to settle 
disputes out of the interpretation of the general 
terms of peace agreed upon before the Armistice, 
the Allied governments were in a position to enforce 
their own opinion in all matters of interpretation 
yet Germany has still the right to a revision of the 
Treaty where an obvious misinterpretation or 
violation of the terms of the pre-Armistice agree 
ment has taken place. 

(5) The pre-Armistice agreement is legally 
binding on the Allies even if it should be proved 
that the German Army was actually beaten in the 
field at the moment of signing the Armistice. 
High military authorities of both sides have, 
however, given evidence that the German army 
was still in a position to inflict heavy losses on 
the enemy right up to the moment of the Armistice, 
and that the Allies gained great advantages and 
avoided much sacrifice by Germany s surrender. 

(6) The following terms form part of the pre- 
Armistice agreement: 

(0) The Allies do not wish to injure Germany or to block 
in any way her legitimate influence or power. 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 119 

(b) Germany to live on equal terms of liberty and safety 
with the Allies. 

(c) Adequate guarantees given and taken that the national 
armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent 
with domestic safety. 

(d) As there is to be equality as regards safety, France 
is under the obligation to reduce her armaments to the 
same level as Germany. 

(e) Absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims. 
(/) No annexations, either of European or colonial 

territory. 

(g) No contributions, no punitive damages Germany, 
however, to make compensation for damage done to the 
civilian population of the Allies and their property. 

The Wilsonian principles also involved recognition 
of the fact that the war had its roots in the disregard of 
the rights of small nations, and that special alliances 
and economic rivalries have been the prolific source 
in the modern world of plans that produce war. 

We reach now that which to German eyes seems 
the great betrayal, and to British eyes unblinded by 
prejudice can seem little different. 

On the strength of the pre-Armistice agreement 
Germany did two things. 

She exiled the Kaiser and abandoned the military 

caste. 
She agreed to the Wilsonian points as a basis for 

armistice. 

What was the result? 

Peace was dictated to her and not negotiated. 
She was disarmed but European armament 
increased. 



120 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

She was stripped of her colonies and territory 
was annexed by the Allies. 

Economic barriers were not removed and no 
attempt was made to achieve equality of 
trade among the post-war States. 

If it is held that Germany was the blood-guilty 
nation and that she was thoroughly defeated in the 
War she invoked, then it is natural to hold, also, that 
whatever was done to her was deserved. If Germany 
was blood-guilty, then the Germans "got what was 
coming to them/ But if that view is held, there 
should never have been any pre- Armistice agreement. 
The word of the Allies Great Britain s word should 
never have been pledged. Whether Germany was 
blood-guilty or not, the word was pledged, and was 
broken. 

Germany herself never accepted, and does not now 
accept, the view that she was blood-guilty, nor the 
view that she was thoroughly defeated in the field. 
Nine days before the Armistice one of the German 
High-Command told his Government that "the 
German army is still strong enough to stand against 
its opponents for months to come, to achieve local 
success and exact new sacrifices from the enemy/ 

We are not here concerned to argue the tightness of 
either viewpoint. We are concerned only to note the 
indisputable fact that, whatever the guilt of Germany 
in 1914 and whatever the state of her armies in 1918, 
she accepted an armistice on terms that were after 
wards deliberately broken. 

The "Treaty" was handed to her, metaphorically, 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 121 

on the point of a bayonet. It was, therefore, not a 
treaty at all, since the very word means an agreement 
reached by negotiation. The German Empire was 
stripped of its overseas possessions. These were the 
two most glaring breaches of faith which rankled in 
the bosoms of the German people long after the War 
had ended. That Germany should be disarmed while 
her small and vindictive neighbours were strongly 
arming rankled only less bitterly. 

What f ollowed? 

The events in post-war Germany have been often 
described. To avoid any suspicion of over-statement 
arising from personal prejudice I extract a striking 
account from a "book written from the standpoint of 
observers who would place their faith in the old 
democracy rather than in new dictatorship/ which 
was published in 1935. It is The Way of the 
Dictators/ by Lewis Broad and Leonard Russell. 

With admirable restraint they write: 

The economic distress in Germany in the decade following 
the War was more severe than anything known in England 
in modern times. It fell short, certainly, of the famine in 
Russia, but the German people endured privations unparal 
leled among civilised races in our day. As a result of the 
Allied blockade which continued for some months after the 
War ended there was a scarcity of all kinds of food. The 
nation lost much of its power of resistence to illness and 
infection; ill-nourishment produced a mental inertia in adults; 
children were to be seen suffering from hunger madness. 

These were the conditions that saw the birth of Hitlerism. 

The blockade was lifted; the standard of living gradually 
improved, but it remained, and remains, below the level in 



122 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

England and France. The working classes had a grim 
struggle for existence. There was the nightmare for the 
nation of the catastrophic plunges of the Mark, when as 
paper money was churned out by the printing presses 
the people s wealth and savings vanished. There was a 
respite, and then Germany felt the onset of the world 
economic blizzard. The chaos of national bankruptcy again 
appeared imminent. Trade and industry collapsed, men 
went out of work thousand after thousand, until at one time 
it was estimated that the unemployed touched a figure of 
ten millions. 

This is the background, these are the conditions, which 
explain the rise of Hitlerism. The older democratic parties 
appeared to be failing in the maintenance of the old order. 
The people turned to Hitler as a strong man who could save 
the country from Bolshevism. The older parties were 
conscious of the limitations of their ability and power. 
Hitler was conscious of the national aspirations, and pro 
claimed his ability to bring about their fulfilment. 

As Messrs. Broad and Russell, and every know 
ledgeable commentator on modern Germany, agree 
and emphasise, there was an even more galling 
punishment for the Germans than material hardship. 
The nation had suffered the humiliation ,of defeat in 
war; it had suffered the humiliation of being held to 
be the guilty party for the loss of the millions who had 
died in the conflict. In the years following the 
defeat those who had suffered and endured, but had 
had the ill-luck not to be killed, were treated as 
malefactors. They were not regarded as national 
heroes, but as national objects of abuse and con 
tempt. They were invited to feel not pride for their 
ardours and endurances, but shame and penitence. 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 123 

Their nation as a whole was humiliated, but they were 
doubly humiliated. Such suffering, humiliation, and 
despair was the cradle of Hitlerism. 

But whatever circumstances cradled Hitlerism, it 
would not have come to birth without Hitler. 

The failure of the British statesmen and public to 
understand Hitler and Hitlerism in their earliest days 
has been responsible for the whole drift and error of 
British foreign policy. The derision with which the 
acknowledged saviour of Germany was hailed as a 
kind of political Charlie Chaplin, an imitative buffoon 
striving to mimic Mussolini, himself still derided, was 
understandable, though not pardonable, in ignorant 
electoral masses. It was neither understandable nor 
pardonable in circles where men were expected to 
have a close knowledge of contemporary events and 
forces in Europe. 

Herr Hitler, to the eyes of the British Parliament 
arians, was a strange figure. No career could have 
been in greater contrast with that of a typical 
successful young Parliamentarian, such as, for 
example, Mr. Eden. These two men were, broadly 
speaking, of the same generation. The one was the 
son of an artistic and titled father. He had passed 
from an ancient public school to a commission in a 
famous regiment and from thence to a job on the 
Staff. After the war he had gone to an ancient 
university and had there taken a brilliant first-class 
in Oriental languages. Entry to Parliament had 
been made easy for him, a safe seat following the 
usual onslaught on a strongly-contested seat. Once 



124 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

in Parliament, family and friendly connections had 
made a rise to Office almost automatic. How differ 
ent was the record of the other ! 

Hitler s father was a cobbler who rose to the 
dignity of a petty Customs official. The youth, after 
an unsuccessful attempt to become an artist and an 
architect, was a bricklayer s labourer, poor and often 
hungry. As an Austrian he was frankly and in 
genuously gratified to be allowed to serve in a 
Bavarian regiment as a private soldier. As a batta 
lion runner most unenviable and dangerous of 
occupations he displayed marked heroism and was 
awarded the Iron Cross. A little before the armistice 
he was the victim of a British gas attack near to 
Ypres, and was in hospital when the War ended. 

Between the two men the only qualities in common 
were a proved personal courage and patriotism. 

Different as Herr Hitler was from the familiar type 
of British politician, anybody who had watched 
Germany in her recurring ordeals should have grasped 
the fact at his emergence that he was, like Naopleon 
before him, not merely a man, but a portent. His 
method of coming to power should have told the 
observers in other countries that he would be a force 
with which to be reckoned, whether for good or evil. 

Two emotions were strong in the youthful Hitler. 
One was a feeling of revolt against the tyranny of 
trades unionism, which had once robbed him of his 
humble means of livelihood. The other was a 
repugnance engendered in him by a Jew whom he saw 
in Vienna. Added to these after the War must have 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 125 

been an emotion even stronger, an emotion between 
rage and hatred at the plight of his country and the 
plight of his fellow soldiers, now under the dregs of 
men. The scorn of the fighting soldier for the 
shirking civilian is always deep. It drives to the 
very soul of a man when the shirking civilian him- 
self turns scornful at the fool who fought and suffered 
when he might have been comfortably joining in the 
scramble for personal wealth behind the lines. 
Germany emerged from the War a defeated nation, 
but the land-grabbing Jews and the clever profit- 
snatching gentiles seemed to have made a good thing 
out of defeat. They were only one degree less odious 
than the scum which, under the leadership of Left- 
Wing doctrinaires, was preparing to seize power from 
the well-meaningbut inept Republicanpoliticalleaders. 

In the midsummer of 1919 young Hitler became 
the seventh member of the inner circle of a small 
"party" of forty members calling itself the "German 
Workers Party/ His joining this body was, pro 
bably, the most accidental thing of his career, for 
at the moment of his reception into it he was con 
templating the formation of a party of Ms own. But 
once a member, he turned his talents for organisation 
and oratory unsparingly to its use. The little party 
soon grew. 

Shortly after his admission to the party Hitler 
devised a twenty-five point programme. Of these 
points the most vital were those which covered the 
necessity for: 

A united community of Germans. 
The wiping out of the Peace Treaties. 



126 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

The return of the colonies. 
The abolition of unearned incomes. 
The recognition of the Jew as an alien. 
To that programme Hitler has remained, and will 
remain, faithful. It is the key to war and peace in 
Europe. As such it should* long ago have been 
recognised by all responsible statesmen. Such recog 
nition does not imply agreement with its rightness. 
Whether right or wrong, justified or unjustified, it is 
the aim to which Germany steadily works. 

When the 25 Point Programme was drawn up 
Hitler was unknown outside a small circle of dis 
contented Germans. The document was then as 
wild a piece of romanticism as the wonderful will 
which was drawn up by the almost moneyless young 
undergraduate Cecil Rhodes. Even had the leaders 
of other nations been aware of it, they could have 
been excused for not taking seriously so grotesque a 
programme from so insignificant a personage. That 
was in 1919. Neither the document nor its author 
should have been misconstrued in the January of 
1933, for between those two dates much happened, 
of which the average British elector is probably still 
unaware or only hazily informed. 

By 1920 the party which had attracted Hitler had 
grown both in numbers and aggressiveness. It had 
been re-named the National Socialist German 
Workers Party. One of its objects and activities 
was to prevent, by force if necessary, the holding of 
meetings or lectures which might poison the minds 
of German citizens with Marxism. Hitler himself 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 127 

for his personal violence in this cause was sentenced 
to three months imprisonment, two-thirds of the 
sentence being remitted. 

It is this resort to violence which the British mind, 
attuned to many years of freedom of speech, finds 
incomprehensible and repugnant in the history of the 
Nazi and Fascist movements. Bred in the belief 
that "force is no remedy/ the Briton revolts from 
political movements which use force as their primary 
weapon. This is odd, for it was from Britain that 
Italians and Germans had their early lessons in the 
application of force to political disputes. It is not, 
for example, without significance that one of the best 
biographies of Cromwell is by an Italian. It is still 
more significant that in the formative years of both 
Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler Britain appeared 
to readers of the foreign news in Italian and German 
newspapers to be perpetually the scene of political 
applications of force. Asquith, the great Liberal 
Prime Minister, had been enjoined as Home Secretary 
to "remember Featherstone," where workers had been 
shot down by the military. Balfour, grown into a 
placid philosopher-statesman, had made his early 
reputation by coercing the Irish and uttering the 
famous order, "Do not hesitate to shoot! Sir 
Edward Carson had armed and drilled militant 
Ulstermen. Women had paved the way to the 
feminine franchise by displays of ragged violence. 
The North West frontier of India was hardly held 
by the terrorism of the screw-gun and, later, the 
aeroplane. And these things were done, and rightly 



128 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

done in view of the social need, by a nation whose 
tranquillity was not menaced by any really devas 
tating disruptive movement. Reading of the day-to 
day commerce of political life in Britain, the young 
foreigner who cared to note such things learnt of 
baton charges against the unemployed, against 
strikers, and knew that in many supposedly peaceful 
democratic constituencies candidates could not hold 
meetings without police protection. The world-wide 
publicity given to the lives of the democratic states 
men who had moulded the Treaty of Versailles had 
taught everybody that even Mr. Lloyd George had 
once been smuggled away from a roaring and forceful 
mob disguised as a policeman. In the democratic 
United States, the traditional land of freedom, the 
application of force in the shape of the cop s baton 
or the soldiery s tear bombs was a commonplace of 
minority politics. 

The violence of the infant Nazi movement was, 
thus, not a reversion to barbaric type. It was a 
regrettable emulation of the political habits of those 
very democracies which deprecated it. And, as 
Mr. Baldwin told the House of Commons, it was 
violence applied to a movement itself relying largely 
on violence for its progress. 

Actually the use of physical force by the young 
Hitler movement was auxiliary to the use of 
educational propaganda. By the end of 1920 the 
little body of 40 members had grown to 3,000 and a 
newspaper had been bought. 

All these activities were conducted at Munich, but 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 129 

Hitler was ready for a larger sphere of action. It was 
as if a young Ulsterman, of terrific faith in the 
ultimate destiny of the British race, after serving 
with distinction in, say, the Lancashire Fusiliers, had 
begun a patriotic movement in Glasgow amongst the 
razor-slashing Reds. The natural inclination of such 
an agitator after the dawn of local success to the 
movement would be to make his impress on London, 
the capital city. Hitler was actually in Berlin when, 
in 1921, an attempt was made by his colleagues to 
undermine his position with the party of which he 
was propagandist-iii-chief . The result of that attempt 
was his election to the party Presidency under a new 
constitution which gave him unlimited powers. Not 
his enemies but himself had achieved a coup. 

This abortive attack on his standing with the 
infant National Socialist Party had one far-reaching 
effect. He formed the now famous S.A. the Brown- 
shirts, the Storm Troopers. These were a picked 
body of men, a defence corps, who were Hitler s 
personal instrument, although officially they were 
declared to be merely a section of the movement 
"devoted to gymnastics and sport/ 

The Brownshirts have been freely displayed as a 
band of Bashi-Basouks organised for sheer brutal 
terrorism, a sadistic band of young ruffians. Nothing 
could be further from the truth of their origin. 
Brutal they proved to be, for they confronted a brutal 
situation, and revolutions are neither made nor 
countered in kid gloves. But the significance of 
this body is to be found in a curious episode 



130 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

wherein Hitler s command of his new guard was 
threatened. 

Germany was inflamed at the provision of the 
Treaty which forbade her an army while her neigh 
bours were under no such prohibition. A certain 
Captain Rohm, who had been instrumental in 
acquiring the newspaper for the movement, desired 
that the stalwarts of the S.A. should form part of a 
secret army and that Reichswehr officers should be 
in command of their training. In the event the 
storm troops were put under the command of a new 
recruit to the National Socialist movement, a re 
markable man with a remarkable war record who 
had been converted by Hitler s oratory. His name 
was Hermann Goring. He had been one of the most 
redoubtable air aces of the War and an ornament of 
the Richthofen Circus, which when Richthofen was 
shot down he commanded. His exploits had been 
the talk of all armies on the Western front and he 
had been awarded the highest decoration for valour 
the German V,C. the Order of Merit. He was both 
brave and efficient, by no means a common con 
junction, a large genial comrade but given to 
outbursts of furious temper. He was a man both 
loved and feared. 

The first dramatic attempt to seize power by the 
new party was the abortive putsch of Munich, the 
history of which need not again be rehearsed in these 
pages. Politically it was an abject failure; the 
marchers to Berlin were scattered. But it demon 
strated strikingly the physical courage and the 



THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 131 

spiritual determination of Hitler, Goring and their 
companions. Goring was hit, but Hitler escaped 
with a damaged shoulder, sustained while taking 
cover to escape a fusillade from the infantry against 
which the procession persisted in marching. 

The planners of the march had to face the courts 
and a possible death penalty. Hitler took the 
occasion to address his judges with great fire. "It 
was not he who was on trial/ says one commentator, 
"it was the Government." 

His harangue from the dock caused his sentence 
to be much lighter than might have been expected. 
He was condemned to five years detention in a 
fortress with the proviso that, if his conduct merited 
it, he could be released earlier. He stayed pent in 
his prison for some months, during which he oc 
cupied his time in the writing of an autobiography, 
the testament known as Mem Kampf, of which Britain 
still awaits a full translation. 

The abortive putsch did much for Hitler. It made 
the National Socialist movement illegal, and detached 
his Storm Troops from the Reichswehr. This enabled 
Hitler, on his release, to re-organise his party on a 
new basis of complete personal autocracy. In 
Berlin Dr. Goebbels took charge of propaganda. As 
with Talleyrand, a physical disability turned him 
from the more active services and, like Talleyrand 
again, he disclosed a mastery of political strategy 
which made him the true complement of the two 
executive officers of the party in Munich. The 
organisation became fully national. The original 



132 THE EMERGENCE OF HITLER 

40 members grew to 40,000 in 1927, to 120,000 in 
1929 and to 250,000 in 1930. 

In that year the Party gained 107 seats in the 
Reichstag. It was the second largest party in that 
assembly, some 6,500,000 votes having been cast for 
Hitler, whose accession to complete power was now 
becoming only a matter of time. 

Circumstances were in full tide behind him. 
Germany was again on the very verge of bankruptcy. 
Salaries and wages were suffering great and savage 
cuts. The Treasury was empty. Reparation pay 
ments under the Young Plan were making more than 
ever unpopular the Peace Treaty for the repudiation 
of which Hitler stood. Dr. Briining, the Chancellor, 
was having to take refuge in decrees, for the demo 
cratic machine was failing in its functions. 

About this time the Foreign Ministers of other 
nations had an unexpected demonstration of how 
strongly behind the new Nazi movement the German 
populace was gathering. The first presidential term 
of the aged and adulated Hindenburg was ending. 
Hitler offered himself as a candidate. On -the first 
poll he received 11,000,000 votes against the old 
Field Marshal s 18,500,000. On the second poU he 
had 13,000,000 against Hindenburg s 19,000,000. 

Bruning gave way to von Papen as Chancellor, von 
Papen to von Schleicher. 

Von Schleicher was unable to control the animosity 
of the Junkers. 

On January 31st, 1933, Hitler, the ex-Corporal, 
became Chancellor of the Reich, 



CHAPTER IX 

BRITAIN DEGRADED 

Are there any further degradations waiting for us? 

MR. GALLAGHER, M.P., in the Commons to Mr. Eden. 

FOR those foreign observers who underrated 
the power and significance of Herr Hitler when 
he became Chancellor there is one thing to be 
said. He seemed to be in office only by the goodwill 
of his opponents. He was running in triple harness 
with von Papen and Hugenberg. His position was 
very much that of Napoleon at the time of the 
Consulate. Not until the election of March 5th 1933, 
would it be possible for Europe rightly to assess 
the weight of the new German Chancellor. 

Before that polling date, however, came the burn 
ing of the Reichstag, which changed the whole 
complexion of German affairs. The cause of that 
fire will provide historians with a first-class dispute 
for generations to come. Whatever its origin 
Communist or other Hitler well knew its import. 
To von Papen he said, at the scene of the fire, "This 
is a God-given signal; if this fire, as I believe, turns 
out to be the handiwork of Communists, there is 
nothing that shall stop us now from crushing out this 
murder pest with an iron fist/ To a member of the 
Press he said, You are seeing the beginning of a great 
new epoch in German history; this fire is the be 
ginning." 

10 133 



134 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

Outside Germany the Communist guilt for the fire 
was freely doubted, as the Catholic guilt for the Great 
Fire of London was doubted. The German leaders 
displayed no such doubt. Under the direction and 
command of Hermann Goring the round-up of sub 
versive citizens and disruptive organisations began 
at once. 

When the nation went to the polls, on March 5th, 
of the votes cast 52 per cent, were for the Govern 
ment, although the Nazi party did not command a 
clear majority in the House. It had nearly 44 per 
cent, of the total seats. This proportion was, 
however, not an effective factor, for the Communists 
were under restraint, and their 89 members could not 
vote against the Government. This situation caused 
an amount of unfriendly comment outside Germany, 
although in Great Britain commentators were con 
strained to recall how similar had been the British 
Parliament in the days of Sinn Fein. 

At this stage in the relations of the two nations a 
rapprochement was eminently probable. The British 
did not relish Nazi methods, but they at least 
appreciated their necessity. The Bolshevism which 
Hitler and his comrades were fighting in Germany had 
in Russia taken an acute anti-British turn, showing 
itself in -the singular episode of the arrest and trial of 
six officials of the Metropolitan-Vickers Company in 
Moscow. The British Government on information 
supplied by its ambassador took the immediate view 
that there was no basis for the charge on which these 
British nationals had been incarcerated and, as was 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 135 

believed, mentally tortured, A protest was sent to 
the Soviet Government and resulted in an imperti 
nent reply from M. Litvinof. This renegade Jew, 
who had floated to power on the blood tide of the 
Bolshevist revolution, treated the British Govern 
ment with contempt. The only effect of his derisory 
reply was a display of enthusiasm in the House of 
Commons when the Under-Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs, Mr. Eden, said that in view of the treatment 
to which British subjects were liable in Russia, 
negotiations for a trade pact with that country 
would be broken off. The enthusiasts could not 
foresee that within a year the indignant young 
Parliamentarian would be the honoured guest in 
Moscow of M. Litvinof and his associates, intimating 
to them that he preferred the atmosphere of Moscow 
to that of Berlin. This change of temper towards 
Russia was not unfamiliar in British policy. When 
the Bolshevists murdered the cousin of the British 
King there was to be "no shaking hands with 
murder/ Within a decade and a half even a Govern 
ment predominantly Conservative was prepared to 
make new trade pacts with the assassins. This 
readiness suffered for a brief while when the British 
engineers were in jeopardy, but was soon restored, 
to enable Mr. Eden to tie Britain not only in trade, 
but in international relations to the Bolshevist 
fortunes. 

Such inconsistency was naturally incomprehensible 
in Berlin, which had felt the menace of Bolshevism 
as Britain had never felt it. Whatever the truth 



136 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

about the firing of the Reichstag, it was supposed by 
the German Nazis to have been intended as a signal 
for a Communist rising. There was no such rising; 
there was instead a period of terror by which the 
Nazis made certain that what had happened in 
Russia and some of the Central European States 
should not happen in Germany. 

The British suffer the defects of their qualities. 
They are not an imaginative race. Sheltered by 
physical geography and long political tradition from 
the racial clashes that are the common-places of 
parts of Europe they were profoundly shocked by 
what happened in Germany during that terror. An 
anti-Semitic pogrom and a political purge conducted 
with the bludgeon, the whip, the knife and the gun 
seemed to British minds an abrupt return to bar 
barism. Such a return was far more disturbing in 
Germany than were the far worse outrages that had 
afflicted Russia some sixteen years before. 

It was extremely difficult, and remains so, for the 
British in their own islands to comprehend the 
venomous hatred of the new regime in Germany for 
the Jews. In Great Britain the Jew has been more 
easily assimilated into the normal governing classes 
than he has been in other countries. Except in the 
East-End of London, Leeds, Manchester and a few 
other manufacturing places, the Jew does not display 
in England characteristics that are unmistakably 
alien. At the ports of Hull and Liverpool may be 
seen occasionally families of immigrant Jews whose 
manners and raiment bespeak the foreign ghettoes of 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 137 

which the English have read but have not smelt or 
seen, but for the most part Jews move in English 
throngs and take their refreshment in English eating 
houses after the fashion of their gentile fellows. For 
more than one generation men whose grandfathers 
had pushed barrows round the square of Frankfurt 
have added dignity and wisdom to the House of 
Peers and given tone to successive governments of 
varied political colour. Very recently statesmen 
like Sir John Simon and magnates like Lord Camrose 
have found it necessary to deny a Jewish origin in 
the face of Fascist taunts, but such taunts and 
denials are new in our public life. Beyond the 
Belloc satires and Kipling s scathing and vitriolic 
poem "Gehazi" there was, for example, no great 
emotion of apprehension in Britain at the career of 
the late Lord Reading. The young Jew, Rufus 
Isaacs, after having been hammered on the Stock 
Exchange, attained a great legal practice, became a 
Minister of the Crown, was involved in a spectacular 
financial scandal, became Viceroy of India and later 
Lord Chief Justice, and left the Bench to become a 
director of a great commercial enterprise presided 
over by a fellow Jew, Lord Melchett, and, as Lord 
Reading, died rich in honours. The present Lord 
Samuel, when Palestine was given to the Jews for a 
national home, went there not as a Jew but as the 
representative of Gentile Britain, in whose name he 
governed Jews and Arabs alike in the mandated 
territory . . . 
In Germany things were and are very different 



i 3 8 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

Under the Republic the Jew had come to dominate 
nearly all walks of life. The leading disciples of the 
Jew Marx were themselves Jews, but so, also, were 
the leaders in finance, commerce and the arts. After 
the inversion of society caused by successive waves 
of currency inflation, Jews were found to have 
prospered. Some of the estates of honoured old 
German families were in Jewish possession. The 
first President of the discredited Republic, Erbert, 
had been a Jew. Wherever the strenuous ex-soldiers 
who had made the Nazi regime possible might look 
they found Jews in power and their own countrymen 
in distress. On the Bench, on the stage, in the 
hospitals, everywhere, they found Jews employed 
while non- Jewish workers and professional men 
walked the streets. It seemed to them as if an alien 
parasite was eating the native race; they remembered 
the Jewish murder of the Romanofs. 

Germany, in short, could not comprehend the 
tenderness to Jewry shown by the British Govern 
ment, and dramatically displayed by the British 
slaughter of Arabs in Palestine, whereas Britain could 
not understand the hatred of Jewry which drove 
Germans to an excess of violence and brutality. 

By the middle of 1933 the new Totalitarian State 
of Germany was well founded. The Junta which 
comprised Hitler, Goring, Goebbels and Hess was 
secure in the supreme command. It should have 
been quite evident to anyone charged with the 
conduct of foreign affairs that from this time forward 
Europe was dealing with a new Germany, a 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 139 

revitalised and regenerated nation not only ready but 
anxious to put itself in the van of the battle against 
Bolshevism. As early as the July the new German 
Government, through its War Minister, requested 
permission to purchase twenty-five aeroplanes in 
England, and was refused. This was as definite an 
intimation as could have been wished that the 
Treaty of Versailles was no longer the operative 
instrument it had previously been. But far from 
endeavouring to understand, if not to approve, the 
new regime in Berlin the British Foreign Office was 
inclined to browbeat the Hitler Government, as it 
had successfully browbeaten the previous Adminis 
trations when Germany was in the throes of economic 
collapse and political debility. 

At a disarmament conference on October 14th the 
British Foreign Secretary, Sir John Simon, n^ade a 
tart speech, virtually accusing Germany of a breach 
of faith. Germany was demanding immediate 
equality in arms with France. If anybody had 
broken faith, it seemed to Germany that it was the 
Allies who had disarmed their foes under a promise 
of general disarmament which had not been kept. 
The German leaders took offence at Sir John s 
remarks and withdrew from the conference, Ger 
many then gave notice of her resignation from the 
League. It was dear that if the rest of Europe 
would not disarm, Germany was determined to re 
arm. Had British policy been wisely directed, Britain 
would from that moment have begun quickly to 
repair her own defences. If Germany was determined 



140 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

to rearm nothing short of a European war 
could stop her, and there was no disposition for such 
a war. If Germany armed, she would be a standing 
menace to Britain, whose capital and chief cities 
could be bombed within an hour or two by German 
planes. 

It is possible that the contempt for Hitler which 
was expressed -in the cartoons that depicted him as a 
kind of European clown led British statesmen to 
believe that his regime could not last, and that the 
danger from German arms was a wild imagining which 
could never come to actuality. It may be that the 
young men of Berlin were regarded as being merely 
so many playboys who could be, and would be, con 
trolled by Hindenburg. 

The Summer of 1934 should have dispelled any 
such illusion. In the month of June the personal 
power of Hitler was bloodily demonstrated by the 
famous "knight of the knife," when the unspeakable 
Rohm and his homosexual associates were purged by 
firing squads from the Nazi Party. In the August 
Field Marshal von Hindenburg died, and Herr 
Hitler became both President of the Republic and 
Chancellor. 

When Hitler thus assumed full nominal as well as 
actual power, Mr. Eden had been for some two 
months Lord Privy Seal with special responsibilities 
for League Affairs. Although he had recently by 
his bonhomie in Moscow sealed and cemented a 
diplomatic and personal friendship with Germany s 
arch-enemy, M. Litvinof, he had a great opportunity 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 141 

to bring back to the common council table those 
German representatives who had left it in anger, for 
Germany let it be known that she was not unwilling 
to return to the League. 

But Germany had not returned to the League half 
a year later when Herr Hitler electrified the world 
by announcing on March 16th, 1935, that con 
scription had been reintroduced into Germany and a 
week later told the British Foreign Secretary that 
Germany had now achieved parity with Great Britain 
in the air. This last, it is true, was no great feat, 
since under the pacifist MacDonald Britain s arma 
ment in the air was slight indeed. But it showed 
that Hitler had not only driven his foot through the 
fabric of the Treaty of Versailles, but had made 
ridiculous the deliberations of the Disarmament 
Conference, which had dillied and dallied over the 
question of whether or not Germany might be 
allowed samples of those arms which her neighbours 
were making in great quantities. 

The full implications of Herr Hitler s announce 
ment should be carefully pondered. France and 
Britain had both for some time been concerned at 
German rearmament. The Treaty was being flagrantly 
defied. That defiance was an adequate reason for 
making war on Germany, and discretion might well 
have dictated to the Allies that they should strike 
before the defiant enemy had further equipped 
himself. 

Hitler was facing the maximum risk of his action 
in announcing Germany s rearmament, and that 



142 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

maximum risk was war. He and the nation he 
commanded must at that moment have felt ready 
for war. What followed must have proved to him 
that nobody else, least of all unarmed Britain, was 
ready, for what followed was not punitive action but 
speeches in Parliament and the hurried visit to Berlin 
of the British lawyer who was Foreign Secretary. 

Germany had rearmed in defiance of the Treaty 
and without using the League of Nations as a medium 
of conveying to the world either her intention or its 
completion and there was no retribution. Such 
open contempt for Britain and France and the 
League, so utterly unpunished, must have assured 
the other Dictator in Rome that Mr. Eden and his 
Genevan colleagues did not really mean business 
when they talked of stopping the Italo-Abyssinian 
War. It should also have warned Mr. Eden that the 
League was a broken reed, and not a staff upon 
which Britain could lean without grotesque disaster. 
Wisdom after the event shows the period 1934-5 
as the real nadir of British prestige. Flouted by 
Russia, Italy and Germany, she turned with a high 
moral gesture to Collective Security, and there was 
no Collective Security. Her example and influence 
had failed to disarm France, Poland, Czechoslovakia 
and the post-Treaty States, and could not prevent 
Germany from secretly and successfully rearming. 

By his open breach with the Treaty Herr Hitler 
had, in fact, done much to aid Europe to refashion 
itself in accordance with actualities. The Treaty of 
Versailles had long been recognised as an unworkable 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 143 

document, largely the result of ignorant war passions. 
It had been framed when the mood of the victors 
expressed itself in the cry "Hang the Kaiser" rather 
than in a desire for a just and endurable peace. It 
contained in itself the means of its own ^revision, 
but nobody had had the courage to apply them. 
The German action gave the chance of a clean 
slate. 

Unfortunately the statesmen of Britain and France 
could not, or would not, seize this chance, because 
they feared that they might be held to be condoning 
the methods by which the two Dictators had secured 
power. Britain s Minister charged with special res 
ponsibilities towards the League may well have felt 
honest indignation at flagrant breaches of the Treaty, 
but with Britain unarmed and the League only a 
remnant of its originally conceived self he was 
helpless. One would have expected him to reason, 
"Deplorable as these things seem to me, my country- 
is not equipped to prevent them. Still less is she 
equipped to punish those responsible. How foolish, 
and perhaps how fatal, therefore, to indulge in 
scoldings and futile but provocative attempts to 
change the course of events." 

Britain did recognise the opportunity for a new 
orientation of European policy to the extent of 
entering into a bilateral naval agreement with 
Germany. This agreement was reached over the 
heads of Italy and France, who with Britain had 
formed a united front at Stresa a few months before. 
To them it seemed a breach of good faith, a 



144 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

demonstration that Perfidious Albion had not changed 
with the years. 

Actually the Naval Agreement was one of two 
distinct signs that Germany would welcome a closer 
understanding with Britain. The other was a speech 
delivered by Herr Hitler on May 22nd that year in 
which he agreed to accept the same limitation of 
armaments as those accepted by other Powers and 
announced Germany s readiness for an air agreement 
to supplement Locarno. He proposed, also, the 
gradual abolition and outlawry of weapons and 
methods of war contrary to the spirit of the Geneva 
Red Cross convention, and suggested the prohibition 
of air bombing outside the battle area should be ex 
tended to the outlawry of all air bombing. 

Germany at that time, it was obvious, was anxious 
for a closer accord with the first-class Powers in 
Europe. What she would not tolerate was the inter 
ference of a collection of small nations at Geneva. 
This she held to rob her of the dignity befitting her 
new status. Utopists fed on the dreams of H. G. 
Wells may scorn and belittle any such national 
thought of "dignity" and "status/ but Germany 
emerging by her own effort and courage from fifteen 
years of world odium which she felt to be undeserved 
was bound to cherish such things. Had the German 
psychology been then understood her very "touchi 
ness" about status and dignity might have been 
turned to good account. 

It would be preposterous to blame Mr. Eden for the 
failure of Britain to grasp and use the new mood in 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 145 

Germany making for accord with Britain, He was 
not the head of the British Government. But he was 
a powerful influence at that time. The pity was that 
such an influence was, as we have seen, sympathetic 
to Russia and antipathetic to Germany. 

So Hitler s offer to co-operate in an air pact to 
supplement the Treaty of Locarno came to nothing 
and almost exactly a year after Germany s first 
defiance of the Treaty of Versailles came the dramatic 
re-entry of Germany into the Rhineland, accom 
panied by a denunciation of the Locarno agreement 
and the offer to France of a new 25 year peace pact. 
This was on March 7th, 1936. 

By this second act Germany had again incurred 
punitive action by her neighbours. M. Flandin at a 
meeting of the League Council hastily summoned in 
London made it clear that the terms of the Treaty 
of Locarno alone would have been ample justification 
for any strong measures France might have taken, 
thought France preferred not to take any action 
until the Council had formally established a breach 
of that Treaty. 

Whatever motives France might have had for her 
forbearance, the realists of Berlin had again success 
fully demonstrated that strong action by a well- 
armed and resolute nation would neet with no 
retribution, since nobody else in Europe was equipped 
either in arms or in national morale to take action. 

As if to emphasise the significance of this demon 
stration Germany refused to discuss any limitation 
of her sovereignty in the Rhineland when Mr. Eden 



146 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

suggested to the German Ambassador that Herr 
Hitler should withdraw all but a symbolical number 
of troops and guarantee not to increase them nor 
fortify the Rhine until new pacts could be discussed. 
This refusal was discussed by the Locarno Powers, 
with Mr. Eden, now Foreign Secretary, in the Chair, 
and was denounced as unsatisfactory. But that was 
all. 

There was no talk of action. There was no 
mention of sanctions. 

1 The Council of the League, as if to pour the last 
ridicule on Geneva, distinguished itself by reaching an 
extraordinary conclusion. It suggested that a de 
militarised zone should be set up in the German zone 
to be policed by international forces, of which Italy 
should furnish a quota. Having denounced Italy as 
an aggressor and a treaty-breaker over the Abyssin 
ian affair, the League was now promoting her to 
become policeman on its behalf to watch Germany 
who had also broken a treaty and might become 
aggressive. 

Never had a Foreign Secretary reported to the 
House of Commons so grotesque a proposal, or one so 
obviously destined to be refused by the nation to 
which it was addressed. 

Between the re-entry into the Rhineland of the 
German troops and the conclusion of the Anglo- 
German naval pact the British Foreign Secretary had 
a unique opportunity, which, could not recur, to 
cement the peace of the world. Hitler was offering, 
however sincerely need not be debated, not only a 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 147 

twenty-five years peace pact to France, but an air 
Locarno to all other Powers. It was within the 
competence of Mr. Eden, with the prestige which he 
had established among the smaller nations at 
Geneva and the position which Britain occupied in 
Europe, to have pressed for perhaps even to have 
insisted upon a complete and thorough revision 
of the Treaty of Versailles. The naturally hot and 
bitter temper of the immediate post-war years had 
passed. Everyone was now prepared to sympathise 
with the German people in their contention that the 
forced Treaty was a breach of faith. Everyone 
knew that the League, lacking America, Japan, and 
Germany and with Italy in revolt, was not the League 
of Nations at all. At that time Germany s grievances 
could have been graciously redressed. Italy s quarrel 
with Abyssinia could have been settled outside the 
{to her) inimical atmosphere of Geneva. The abor 
tive Disarmament Conference could have been super- 
ceded by a series of agreed programmes of arms 
limitation on the lines of the Anglo-German naval 
agreement. 

The opportunity, if realised, was not taken. 
Britain, who might have taken the lead in the 
pacification of Europe was left unarmed in the armed 
camp to suffer a series of further humiliations. Of 
these the first were the Italian victory in Abyssinia 
and the episode of the questionnaire to Germany. 

Italy s triumph we have already considered. The 
story of the questionnaire can be more briefly told. 

The British Foreign Office, with Mr. Eden in 



148 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

charge, began the month of April, 1936, proudly and 
belligerently. On the 7th of that month a long list 
of questions was despatched to the British Am 
bassador in Berlin for him to present formally to 
the German Government. The gist of this document 
was: 

(1) Did Germany now regard herself as being in a position 
to conclude genuine treaties. 

(This to the Nazi Government must have seemed a 

wanton insult.) 

* * * 

(2) What was Germany s view of the continued mainten 
ance in force of the still operative clauses of the Treaty of 
Versailles or any agreement arising out of it. 

(This was tantamount to saying, "You have killed the 
Treaty; will you now be bound to its rotting corpse?") 

* * # 

(3) Did Germany recognise and intend to respect the 
existing territorial and political status of Europe except in 
so far as it might be subsequently modified by free negotia 
tion and agreement? 

(That is are you going to make any wars? If so, tell 
us now, so that we can be prepared to defeat you.) 

* * * 

(4) Would Germany consent to accompany the Western 
Air Pact with a regional agreement for the limitation of air 
strengths? 

(Germany had already implied this readiness in her 
proffered acceptance of common arms limitation.) 

* * * 

(5) Would Germany be willing to conclude pacts of non- 
aggression with the Soviet Union, Latvia and Estonia? 

(Germany had declared that friendship between her 
and the Bolshevists was not possible,) 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 149 

(6) What did Germany understand by the phrase "the 
separation of the Covenant of the League of Nations from 
its basis in the Treaty of Versailles setting?" 

The day after this questionnaire was despatched 
to Berlin it was published as a White Paper for the 
world s perusal. 

For some days nothing happened. 

On the 20th Mr. Eden was at Geneva declaring 
with some heat that existing sanctions must be 
maintained against Italy. 

On the 21st Mr. J. H. Thomas told the Commons 
that Britain had no intention of returning any 
colonies to Germany and would not even discuss the 
return of the Mandated Territories until the demand 
was put forward "from other quarters/ 

The British Government pressed Germany for a 
reply. There was no reply. 

Eventually in the July Mr. Eden was forced to 
confess that in spite of repeated pressings no reply 
could be extracted from Berlin. It was clear to the 
world that Britain s questions were being treated with 
quiet contempt. 

This was to prove an example that was to be 
followed by other recipients of British queries and 
protests. 

Until the full degradation of 1936 is appreciated, 
it is folly to try to weigh the wisdom or unwisdom of 
Britain s policy in the coming years. 

Within the space of a few weeks Italy had shown 
open contempt for the British policy of sanctions at 
Geneva and Germany had shown covert contempt 



150 BRITAIN DEGRADED 

for the British questionnaire emanating from White 
hall. Germany had dared to display this contempt 
because she knew that the State which sent her the 
interrogatory was: 

A State which had displayed its ineffectiveness even to 
hinder, much less stop, Italy s colonial adventure. 

A State which, with its Allies, had twice seen Germany 
ignore the Treaty of Versailles without being able to take 
any practical steps to mark its resentment. 

That Germany was ready to offer such an affront 
when the ineptitude of the British Foreign Office 
afforded the chance is easily understood, as these 
pages have now so often repeated, Britain in German 
eyes was a sleeping partner to the Franco-Soviet 
Pact/ which had been ratified in France a few weeks 
before the British questionnaire was despatched. 

Ignored and even derided by the major Powers, 
Britain was now distrusted by the smaller States. 
As if to symbolise to the world what happened to 
those who put their trust in Geneva and Mr. Eden s 
leadership of the League, there arrived in England 
as a fugitive on June 3rd the wretched Negus of 
Abyssinia. 

It was reported in the Press that on June 5th Mr. 
Eden had waited upon the illustrious exile, but that 
the situation had not been discussed. We may be 
sure that it was being discussed in Tokio, Berlin and 
Rome. We may be equally sure that it was discussed 
in Madrid, where certain military officers found their 
patience wearing thin under the outrages of Com 
munists, Marxists, Anarchists and the other Leftists, 



BRITAIN DEGRADED 151 

who, behind the camouflage of a "Pink" Government, 
were ruining Spain for orderly people. 

In failing to realise as he apparently did fail 
that his unsuccessful Genevan policy had had as its 
main effect the linking of Britain to the Left- Wing 
States of Russia and France, Mr. Eden made it 
inevitable that the Spanish civil war, which after a 
long period of gunmen and beatings-up, effectively 
began on July 18th, 1936, must involve Britain in 
further differences with both Italy and Germany. 

The beginning of the Spanish war caused the focal 
point of European affairs to move to the West. 
Twelve months later, in the July of 1937, a new war 
between the Japanese and the Chinese it was not 
officially a war between Japan and China brought 
into existence the Rome-Berlin-Tokio axis. Both 
of these events placed Britain in increased jeopardy, 
for she was still an unarmed Power, since the depleted 
and largely obsolete weapons she possessed were on 
no comparable scale with those of Germany, Italy 
and Japan. 

The happenings of the period from the Summer of 
1936 to the Spring of 1938 brought unprepared 
Britain time and again to the brink of war, and 
resulted eventually in the fall of Mr. Anthony Eden. 
They are happenings still fresh in all men s minds, 
but they must be lightly sketched here for they 
created the choice which lay before Britain when 
Mr. Chamberlain took the initiative in foreign policy, 
a choice still not firmly made, which it is the purpose 
of this book to discuss. 



CHAPTER X 

BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

If the massacre of the townspeople is revolting to modern ideas, it 
was the normal custom (in the days of Scipio) and for many centuries 
thereafter, and with the Romans was a deliberate policy aimed at the 
moral factor rather than mere insensate slaughter. The direct blow at 
the civil population, who are at the seat of the hostile will, may indeed 
be revived by the potentialities of aircraft, which can jump, halmawise, 
over the armed men who form the shield of the enemy nation. Such a 
course, if militarily practicable, is the logical one, and ruthless logic usually 
overcomes the humaner sentiments in a life and death struggle. 

B, H. LIDDELL HART in A Greater than Napoleon, 1926. 

THE Spanish civil war at its inception in the 
July of 1936 was largely presented to the con 
sciousness of the British public as an attack 
on "democracy" by Spanish puppets of Italian and 
German dictatorship. This was a complete mis 
conception. The Spanish Government, against which 
the forces of General Franco were in revolt, was one 
which itself dated from a revolution. It had its 
beginnings in the terrible time when the Monarchy 
was overthrown and religious establishments were 
put to the torch and their inhabitants to the terror. 
Early in 1936 various elections, with the electoral 
system blatantly "jerrymandered/ brought into 
power a "Popular Front" Government under which 
the country was driving swiftly to greater and greater 
social and economic chaos. Certain army leaders, 
known to be anxious about the trend of events, were 
abruptly dismissed from their posts. General Franco, 
who had been made Chief of the General Staff in the 

152 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 153 

previous year, was degraded and allotted the military 
command of the Canaries. 

Under the new Government there began a regime of 
strikes and terrorism. Left Wing workers seized 
estates, churches were burnt, political clubs were 
sacked, lives, particularly the lives of priests and 
nuns, were sacrificed with the light-hearted abandon 
which the British public generally associates with the 
gangsters of filmdom. 

This riot of Red outrages brought into existence 
the Falange Espanola, a fascist body which began to 
give the thugs of the Left called by Senor Azafia, 
the Premier, "the hungered multitudes" a taste of 
their own methods. 

Parliamentary coups and attempts to conciliate 
the shop-sacking, life-taking mobs by ignoring Parlia 
ment altogether did nothing to make the situation 
better. That which the British were asked to look 
upon as "democracy" was, in reality, a regime of 
direct action and physical violence, red ruin and the 
breaking up of laws, 

Britain, which had leaned against and broken a 
very mild British attempt at direct action in the 
form of a general strike, can have had no real 
sympathy with the direct actionists of Spain. Had 
the British been properly instructed and educated 
into the truth about Spanish factions, their tempera 
mental sympathy would have been with the insur 
gents who had determined to end the terror which 
was masked behind the pretext of a democratic 
Parliamentary Government. 



154 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

It was extremely significant that the Spanish 
Government attracted to itself the warm sympathy 
of Russia. There was nothing of democracy in the 
outlook of Moscow, with its dictatorship of the 
proletariat, and yet to the defence of "democracy" in 
Spain the Soviet forces rallied. The reason was that 
Spain was presented as a battleground on which the 
Fascists of Europe were about to fight for possession 
of Spain with its great command of certain strategical 
points. 

The British Government, thanks to Mr. Eden s 
conduct of its foreign policy, had been newly snubbed 
by the two Fascist Powers. It stood in a Genevan 
alliance with the Governments of France and Russia, 
both anti-Fascist States. Had Britain stood aloof 
from the Spanish struggle with any implication of 
goodwill towards the insurgents, the harmony at 
Geneva would have been marred. The three ac 
cidental allies would have shown themselves divided. 
Britain would have been isolated. 

Actually, Britain had nothing to gain and much 
to lose from a Bolshevist triumph in the Mediter 
ranean sphere, and she had every reason, in her 
unarmed condition, to wish to retrieve the diplomatic 
friendship of Germany and Italy. But whatever 
Britain s attitude to the struggle, Italy was of 
necessity much concerned with Franco s fortunes. 
She could not with safety afford the consolidation of 
a Bolshevist State in Western Europe, particularly 
one which sat at the Western mouth of the Mediter 
ranean Sea, nor could she permit the defeat of a 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 155 

Fascist movement by a motley conglomeration of 
Bolshevists, Anarchists, Marxists and Communists. 
It was also desirable to the still infant regime in 
Germany that Fascism should triumph in Spain. 

To British eyes the battlefields of Spain were the 
terrain of a civil war. To German and Italian and 
Russian eyes they were a theatre on which was being 
waged a struggle of two opposing ideas, one of which 
must eventually conquer Europe. 

Against this, another British viewpoint must be 
set. If the Fascist forces triumphed in Spain, 
Britain would find herself facing a powerful bloc of 
nations which between them could straddle every 
Empire route. If Fascism as a world force included 
Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and these 
nations ever acted in concert against the British 
world, they would have bases for their planes and 
submarines which would enable them to sever Great 
Britain from her Dominions and, indeed, from the 
whole of the outer world. Anyone who looks at a 
map of the world and sees where the combined 
possessions of those four nations are situated will 
grasp at once how, in an age of aeroplanes and wide- 
ranging submarines, they could affect a strategical 
command more menacing than any known to history. 
The Azores, the Canaries, the bases on the West 
Coast of Africa, the head and tail of the waterway 
comprising the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Nile 
these properly used by a resolute concert of Fascist 
nations could present to Britain, whether with or 
without Allies, a situation designed to daunt the 



156 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

stoutest heart. It was the realisation of this which 
caused many persons to press for aid for the Spanish 
Reds. 

But aid for the Spanish Reds might have meant 
immediate war, and for this Britain, as her statesmen 
had been busy telling the world, was totally unready. 

In the event, Britain s policy pleased nobody. An 
embargo on arms and a policy of nominal "non-inter 
vention" could have only one result. It prolonged 
the civil war and angered the very powers who were 
most to be feared. 

It must be reiterated, and with great insistence, 
that what was at stake was Britain s own safety. 
There was no question, as so many sentimentalists 
without knowledge of the relative strengths of nations 
supposed, whether or not Britain from moral motives 
should exert financial or even physical force to ensure 
the victory in Spain of one contending philosophy 
over the other. The only question was what Britain 
could do or ought to do, caught as she was in the 
first phase of her rearmament, to prevent herself 
from being embroiled in a new world war or from 
becoming the object of attack by some heavily armed 
air power while her ports and cities were still un 
defended and undefensible. 

It would have been possible for the British 
Government at the start of the Spanish war to have 
declared that as a nation Britain had nothing what 
ever to do with the quarrel and would remain entirely 
aloof from it. This was not done, apparently 
because in the first weeks France took the lead by 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 157 

sending to Britain, on August 2nd, 1936, "a pressing 
appeal for the rapid adoption and rigid observance of 
an agreed arrangement for non-intervention in Spain/ 
After the usual diplomatic "dickering" an exchange 
of formal Notes passed between London and Paris 
agreeing that a non-intervention arrangement was to 
come into force the moment the German, Italian, 
Portuguese and Russian Governments concurred. 
This exchange of Notes was accompanied by a 
warning from the British Government to its own 
subjects that if they assisted either side in Spain 
they not only put themselves in peril, but made it 
difficult for an agreed non-intervention to be reached. 

It may be asked what is the difference between a 
declaration of aloofness from the struggle and 
agreement not to intercede. It is the difference 
between keeping clear of a street row and helping to 
keep the ring. 

Far from keeping well out of the trouble zone, 
Mr. Eden, under pressure from Labour Leaders, sent, 
on August 27th, 1936, a telegram to the British 
Ambassador at Hendaye. In this he supported a 
proposal put forward by other powers that an appeal 
be made to both sides in Spain to mitigate as far as 
possible and on humanitarian grounds the horrors 
of war. The intention was excellent but what 
mitigation of horrors could be found expedient by 
men fighting for their lives, and more than their 
lives? 

Mr. Eden was at this time greatly harassed by 
people at home who had mastered neither the facts 



158 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

of recent Spanish history nor the difficulties which 
confronted the British Foreign Office. A conference 
which included the Parliamentary Labour Party, the 
T.U.C. and the National Executive of the Labour 
Party passed a resolution which not only con 
gratulated the gunmen and gangsters of the Red 
forces on "cementing with their blood the founda 
tions of liberty and democracy/ but also condemned 
Italy, Germany and Portugal for breaking inter 
national law by supplying arms to the rebels. The 
foundations of liberty and democracy which had been 
cemented had been terrorism, chicanery and the 
outraging of all religious principles by those very 
methods and forces of disruption which had swept 
both Italy and Germany before Fascism and Nazism 
had overcome them. The resolution must have 
read oddly in Berlin and Rome. There is no record 
that Mr. Eden publicly rebuked those who took sides 
with the Spanish Reds in this fashion, although in the 
Commons on October 29th, 1936, he supported the 
Non-Intervention Committee in its finding that no 
charges of breaking any agreement had been proved 
against Italy, Germany or Portugal. On Novem 
ber 19th he went further and tartly told the 
Communist, Mr. Gallacher, that: 

"... as far as breaches (of non-intervention) are con 
cerned, I wish to say categorically that I think there are 
other Governments more to blame than either Germany 
or Italy/ 

It was clear from the debate in which that speech 
was made that: Britain tacitly recognised General 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 159 

Franco s right to blockade Catalonia, but four days 
later it was re-affirmed that she would not grant to 
him the status of a belligerent. The Government s 
policy, said Mr. Eden, on that date (November 23rd, 
1936) was "to take no part in the Spanish civil war 
and to give no assistance to either side/* But by 
December 18th the Foreign Secretary told the House 
of Commons that "non-intervention has not realised 
our expectations. . . . We are searching for some 
means better than non-intervention; obviously the 
best method would be for some more effective form 
of control/ 

It will be seen how contradictory and baffling was 
British foreign policy the right to blockade but no 
recognition as a belligerent; take no part in the war, 
but seek for some more effective form of control ! 

Had Britain bidden her own nationals not to 
interfere in the Spanish war, that would have been 
one thing; to search for something better than agreed 
non-intervention in the form of more effective control 
was quite another thing. It meant that every 
incident would be the cause of a British squabble 
with some real or fancied delinquent. 

It is, indeed, difficult to understand why Britain 
who had decided to "take no part in the Spanish 
war* should seem so sedulously to look for trouble 
in Spanish waters. In January, 1937, the British 
and French Governments combined in an appeal to 
Berlin, Rome, Lisbon and Moscow to end foreign 
enlistment. The appeal was actually sent before 
Christmas, 1937, but not until January 5th did 



i6o BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

Mr. Eden press the neglectful recipients in Berlin 
and Rome for a reply, which was that they would 
halt any aid to the combatants if other nationals 
left Spain. This unsatisfactory interchange necessi 
tated the usual saving of British face: it was declared 
to be a basis for further negotiations. 

In the middle of January, 1937, the indefatigible 
correspondent of the New York Time, Ferdinand 
Kuhn, Jr., unearthed a bit of secret British Cabinet 
history. By about the sixth of the month it was 
evident that Mr. Eden wanted a more energetic 
approach to the problem of non-intervention and was 
desirous of using British warships to make control 
more effective. On January 8th his plan was laid 
before his colleagues, who were requested to give him 
new authority to assure other nations that Britain 
meant business. Sir Samuel Hoare, according to the 
report, obj ected. The matter was left on the table, 
but within twenty-four hours opposition to the 
dangerous proposal stiffened. Sir Samuel secured 
the backing of the Cabinet and the bellicose plan was 
abandoned. 

The interchanges with Germany were proceeding 
at an awkward time. Still hurt by the incident of 
the unanswered questionnaire to Berlin, Mr. Eden, 
through a speech to the Commons, asked Germany 
to consider where she was going and suggested that 
she should co-opefate with the rest of Europe while 
there was yet time. He declared that if Herr Hitler 
persisted in his policy of economic isolation and 
political antagonism there could be no question of 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 161 

British political co-operation or economic aid for 
Germany. This drew from Herr Hitler, on the 
fourth anniversary of the inauguration of the Nazi 
regime, a frank statement of German aims. The ex- 
colonies must be restored, there could be no com 
promise with Bolshevism, the war guilt of Germany, 
.implicit or explicit in the Treaty of Versailles, must 
be retracted. The British Foreign Office pondered 
well this ominous statement, and allowed it to be 
understood that no reply was planned. However, on 
March 2nd, when Herr Ribbentrop renewed the 
Colonial demand, Mr. Eden said that the Government 
had not considered and were not considering any 
transferring of the Germany territory under British 
control. 

In ihe year 1938 the action of the Spanish insur 
gents in bombing British ships to prevent their 
cargoes from reaching the Red forces brought Britain 
several times to fever heat, but the real difficulty of 
the British policy, of which this was an exhibition, 
was apparent as early as the early months of the 
previous year. During the blockade of Bilbao, 
General Franco threatened to prevent any ship 
carrying food and other goods not covered by the 
Non-intervention Agreement from reaching that port, 
which he had invested. On the situation which then 
arose The Economist made the apt comment: 

The British Government s maintenance of the principle 
of non-recognition of belligerency has faced them with the 
need to decide whether to throw overboard part of the 
corpus of international maritime law, or to convoy British 



162 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

shipping into Bilbao in defence of British rights. They 
have chosen the former, but have tried to soften the blow 
by asserting that, in principle, they maintain the rights 
which in practice they renounce. 

The Economist also declared that Mr. Eden 
"suggests that the Government on April 13th (1937) 
merely kow-towed to illegal threats by a rebel, to 
whom they declined to accord the status of a 
belligerent." 

The exact reply of the British Government to 
General Franco s readiness to risk an "incident" with 
Britain rather than loosen his control of the Basque 
coasts was to warn shipmasters to take their cargoes 
elsewhere, but even here our foreign policy was not 
consistent. British warships were always handy on 
the fringe of the three mile territorial water limit 
when British shipmasters, despite the warning of 
their Government, cared to take a risk. In May, 
1937, the Basque Government persuaded the British 
to afford naval protection outside those waters to 
ships carrying refugees out of the Vizcayan war zone. 
While this policy of blowing hot and cold was 
being conducted, and in spite of the avowed intention 
of taking no part in the war, the British Government 
could not prevent the Left Wing sections of the 
Press from calling General Franco s force "a bar 
barous invader," the writers of such comment 
forgetting conveniently the barbarism of the Reds 
of Guernica who had cheerfully slaughtered some 
3,000 non-Reds. 
By the mid-April of 1937 a system of sea patrols 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 163 

had become effective. The ships of four nations 
were involved, with twenty-seven nations nominally 
co-operating in the patrolling of land and sea frontiers 
to prevent war supplies and volunteers from going 
to Spain. This led at the end of May to a very 
startling and awkward incident, for the German 
battleship Deutschland was bombed by Reds. As a 
retaliation a bombardment was made of the Spanish 
town of Almeira. Germany and Italy both left the 
Non-intervention Committee and the naval patrol 
until they were assured of protection from air attacks 
on ships of the international coast watchers. Their 
action resulted on June 12th in a Four Power agree 
ment. Unfortunately the German cruiser Leipzig 
was attacked by a submarine, and as the other 
Powers would not administer any retribution, Ger 
many and Italy withdrew from this Pact, and Baron 
von Neurath cancelled a visit to London. 

Spain was thus early worsening the relations 
between the Totalitarian States and their neighbours. 
Even in the United States, temperamentally an 
tagonistic to the Totalitarian States, the British 
Foreign Secretary was strongly criticised for his 
vacillations. The New York Times of July 18th, 
1937, described him as being "like a willow that 
bends to every breeze/ 

It may have been such criticism which caused a 
new outburst of verbal aggressiveness in Mr. Eden, 
for the following day he warned Italy that "this 
country has every intention of defending its national 
interests in the Mediterranean as elsewhere in the 



164 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

world." Italy did not seem much perturbed. In 
Britain those of us who had long and anxiously urged 
rearmament upon the tardy Government for which 
Mr. Eden spoke wondered with what equipment the 
sturdy defence of national interests was to be 
achieved. What was really about to happen in the 
Mediterranean was a diplomatic victory for Italy. 
The attacks by submarines on merchant ships in the 
Mediterranean were so frequent that a new Confer 
ence of the Powers was called, known as the Nyon 
Conference. In the September an accord was 
reached by which Britain and France were to 
supervise sea lanes in the entire Mediterranean, while 
Greece, Turkey and Russia were to patrol their own 
waters. Italy stood aloof. She would participate 
in no scheme unless and until her parity with Britain 
and France was recognised. In the event it was 
recognised. Italy was given a section of the Mediter 
ranean to patrol which left no doubt in the mind of 
the world, and of Italians, that her insistence had 
overawed the other Powers. The ships of the nation 
which had been virtually outlawed by Geneva were 
the accredited policemen of a section of the East- 
Central Mediterranean, guarding the very points 
which Britain had once looked upon as her own 
special preserve. 

This diplomatic triumph was soon to be followed 
by another. The belief that democracy " was being 
attacked by Fascism was from the first ridiculous to 
anyone who knew the truth about the Reds in Spain 
and their conduct before the beginning of the Franco 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 165 

revolt. The truth was that Bolshevism in Spain 
had been counter-attacked by Fascism. This being 
so, it was humanly inevitable that supporters of the 
Left from France and Russia would flock to the aid 
of the Spanish Reds, and that those who abhorred 
the Reds and saw in their Spanish ascendancy a 
danger to world order would strive equally to help 
the opponents of the Reds. Any attempt to restrain 
such volunteers, however laudable, was bound to 
prove futile. To devout Catholics all over the 
world General Franco was a defender of the Faith. 
To the anti-clericals of Russia and France he was 
the archetype of obscurantist tyranny. The war in 
Spain could not be a private fight, for it had all the 
call of a crusade, of a holy war, to thousands outside 
that unhappy country. It was the very ardour of 
these fanatical crusaders which threatened to make 
Spain the occasion for a much wider conflict. 

On October 16th, 1937, France, with the con 
currence of the British Foreign Office, put forward 
a plan for the "token withdrawal" of volunteers from 
each side. It was a plan not very unlike an abortive 
scheme which Britain had herself tabled in the July. 
The medium through which the plan was proffered 
to the belligerents was the Non-Intervention Com 
mittee. It came from France and Britain and the 
representatives of Italy and Germany refusal to 
commit themselves. Instead they displayed indig 
nation at a statement made by the British Foreign 
Secretary, Mr. Eden, in a speech delivered at 
Llandudno the previous night. He had said; 



166 BRITAIN AND SPAIN 

"I, for one, should certainly not be prepared to utter 
criticisms of any nation which, if such conditions continue, 
felt compelled to resume its freedom of action/ 

This was taken to mean that if France chose to 
open the frontier and allow a flood of men and 
munitions into Spain for the benefit of the Reds, 
Mr. Eden, despite his attachment to non-intervention, 
would not be perturbed. The speech probably 
meant nothing of the kind. Indeed, Mr. Eden s 
words were so vague that, re-read long after their 
delivery, they seem to have meant singularly little 
at all. But in the light of his known attachment to 
M. Litvinof everything he said seemed to display an 
aversion to anything anti-Bolshevist. 

At a later stage of the Conference considering the 
French plan, Italy s representative, Count Grandi, 
with German approval, offered a concession, in 
cluding token withdrawals to be followed by a 
commission to enquire into the number of volunteers 
in Spain and the best means of withdrawing them. 
To this M. Maisky, the Bolshevist representative, 
had strong reservations to make. By the 26th of 
the month the plan was dead. France and Britain 
had again been publicly worsted diplomatically, and 
made to seem politically foolish. 

In the meantime Gijon had surrendered to General 
Franco s forces, the siege of Oviedo had been raised, 
and the insurgents were masters of North-West 
Spain. Italy and Germany had recognised General 
Franco s status as a belligerent. 

The Committee of Non-Intervention had proved 



BRITAIN AND SPAIN 167 

to the end of 1937 as futile to stay the march of 
events as had any of the League s various com 
mittees at the time of the Abyssinian campaign. It 
had, however, proved equally fruitful in causing 
incident after incident between the various Powers 
and in putting Britain into a false antithesis to Italy 
and Germany. 

It almost seemed as if Spain were the contemptuous 
epilogue to Mr. Eden s earlier farce of brag and bolt. 
But the epilogue was more lively than the main play, 
for British ships were being attacked and sunk, and 
British nationals seized without redress. 

It was not, however, in the Mediterranean that 
Britain s cup was to be filled with the bitter wine 
of Edenism. The China seas and coastlands were 
to be the scenes of far more galling episodes than any 
that fretted Britain s pride in the European waters. 
The contemptuous treatment which had been ac 
corded to Britain s various Notes and Protests and 
plans by Italy, Germany and the Spanish insurgents 
was to be paralleled by Japan. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE END OF EDENISM 

Palmerston conceived that the position which (Britain) had acquired 
justified her in meddling in all the affairs of other European countries, 
their internal difficulties as well as their external relations. He was 
popular at home for his constant upholding of British interests; but he by 
no means confined himself, however, to this his proper sphere, but was 
forward with his advice on all occasions and to all countries, whether 
British interests were concerned or not. In particular he was wont to 
lecture despotic Governments on the advantages they would derive from 
adopting constitutions after the British pattern. . . . While he thus 
acquired for his country valuable sympathies in some quarters, he roused 
strong suspicion in most of the Governments of Europe, and courted 
unnecessary rebuffs in matters over which he was not prepared to resort 
to arms. 

DISRAELI. By Moneypenny and Buckle, Vol. 3, Chapter VII, 

FEW political inversions more astonishing have 
been seen than that of the relations of Japan 
to Britain and Germany. Before the war of 
1914-18 the German Emperor stamped the Eastern 
races as "the Yellow Peril/ Britain took Japan as 
her firm ally. Within twenty years of the con 
clusion of that war Japan had linked herself to 
Germany as part of the Rome-Berlin-Tokio Axis, and 
was offering repeated affronts to Great Britain. 

Mr. Eden, on his appointment as Foreign Sec 
retary, inherited a difficult problem in Anglo- 
Japanese relations. An Anglo- Japanese Treaty was 
signed in 1902. It was therein agreed that in the 
event of either party becoming involved in war with 
a third Power, the other party was to remain neutral 
unless "any other Power or Powers should join in 
hostilities against that ally, when the other high 

168 



THE END OF EDENISM 169 

contracting party will come to its assistance and will 
conduct the war in common and make peace in 
mutual agreement with it." 

This Treaty recognised the special interests of 
Great Britain in China and of Japan in both China 
and Korea, with "the rights of both parties to take 
such measures as may be indispensable to safeguard 
those interests either against the aggressive action of 
any other Power or in the case of disturbances in 
either country. 3 

In 1905, three years later, this Treaty was followed 
by the Anglo- Japanese Alliance, concluded just 
before the Treaty of Portsmouth which ended the 
Russo-Japanese War. 

Japan played a notable part in the war of 1914-18 
as one of the Allied Powers. In 1918 she joined 
Great Britain and France and the United States in 
sending an expedition to Siberia against the Bolshe 
vists. The Japanese remained in Siberia longer than 
the other Powers. At the Washington Conference a 
promise was made to withdraw the Japanese troops 
as soon as the situation permitted. Unfortunately 
in March, 1920, before that withdrawal, a Bolshevist 
guerrilla gang massacred 700 Japanese. This same 
Russian Bolshevism was at that time recognised as a 
grave danger to British interests both in the East 
and the West, no less than to the interests of Japan. 
In 1921 Anglo- Japanese relations were greatly 
strengthened by the visit to Britain of Crown Prince 
Hirohito, the first royal prince in the direct line df 
descent ever to leave his native country, In the 



170 THE END OF EDENISM 

following year the visit was repaid by the Prince of 
Wales. There seemed every reason why the Anglo- 
Japanese Alliance should continue, but it was formally 
ended by the needs of the Washington Conference of 
1921, to the open regret of both nations.* 

In the June of 1931 a Japanese officer, Captain 
Nakamura, was murdered in Manchuria. The 
friction aroused between Japan and China over this 
incident blazed into open war three months later, 
when Chinese troops bombed a section of the South 
Manchurian Railway and attacked the Japanese 
guards. Japanese troops fought their way into the 
walled city of Mukden. 

It was not until two months later that the Council 
of the League met in Paris to consider the dispute. 
There then began the complete display of the 
League s impotence which first caused so many of 
those who had given it great confidence to realise 
that hopes placed- in it were vain. Not until six 
months after the fighting had begun and nine months 
after the murder of the Japanese officer did the 
League formally pass a resolution that the provisions 
of the Covenant were applicable to the Sino- Japanese 
dispute, although some four months before the 
passing of this resolution it had been decided to send 
a Commission of Inquiry, of which Lord Lytton 
became Chairman, to Manchuria. 

There was no question of sanctions being applied 
against Japan, who had refused peace proposals, 

*For an excellent short account of the Washington Conference and*the 
regret caused by its ending the Anglo- Japanese Alliance, see Mrs. Dugdale s 
Life of Balfour," vol. 2, pages 315 et seq, particularly page 18. 



THE END OF EDENISM 171 

In time the Lytton Commission reported. In the 
ineffectual document which issued from it full 
allowance was made for Japan s legitimate claims on 
the grounds of security and economic requirements. 
Her grievances were acknowledged and sympathetic 
consideration given to the complications which had 
been created by China s instability. The Com 
mission expressed the view that events in Manchuria 
had so embittered relations that sooner or later 
conflict was inevitable. The gist of the report was, 
probably, a passage which read: 

It is a fact that, without declaration of war, a large area 
of what was indisputably Chinese territory has been forcibly 
seized and occupied by the armed forces of Japan, and has, 
in consequence, been separated from and declared inde 
pendent of the rest of China. The mere restoration of the 
status quo ante would be no solution and would leave out of 
account the realities of the situation. The maintenance of 
the present regime in Manchuria would be equally 
unsatisfactory. 

The report then outlined a suggested future for 
Manchuria, with foreign advisers and a gendarmerie 
under foreign instructors. 

Japan s reply to this document was decisive. Press 
representatives in ToMo were informed that after a 
twenty-four hours study of the Report the Japanese 
Foreign Office held the view that it was a fair and 
valuable document, but its suggestions for a settle 
ment were useless, as Japanese policy, dearly marked 
by the recognition of the new State of Manchukuo, 
was irrevocable and could not even be discussed with 



172 THE END OF EDENISM 

the League. An official Japanese spokesman said 
bluntly, "What is done cannot be undone: the 
League does not enter into our relations with 
Manchukuo." 

Japan had not annexed Manchuria: she had set up 
there a new independent State. 

The moral indignation of Great Britain at this act 
did not perturb the Japanese. They well remem 
bered Britain s own history in China. They recalled 
that in preservation of the opium trade Great Britain 
in 1839 had with two frigates destroyed a fleet of 
29 armed Chinese junks and conducted a lively war, 
and this without the provocation that Japan had 
received. That war "provided Great Britain with a 
valuable territorial basis in the acquisition of Hong 
Kong, and a source of increased commercial pros 
perity in the opening of five additional Chinese ports. 
The most important fact, however, concerning the 
Treaty is that it broke down the attempt of China to 
maintain her diplomatic exclusiveness, and intro 
duced her, though against her will, into international 
society. In China, as in India, the general effect 
of British foreign policy during the years under 
consideration was to extend and consolidate, both 
politically and strategically, the power and prestige 
of Great Britain in the Far East/ * 

Those who in Britain condemned Japan in 1931-32 
may well have reasoned that Britain s aggression 
was nearly a century earlier and that international 
morals had changed and advanced. Such a plea 

* "Cambridge History of British. Foreign Policy/ 1 vol. 2, page 219. 



THE END OF EDENISM 173 

would still have left Japan unmoved, for as late as 
April, 1885, says the work just cited: 

. . . fearing that Russia contemplated the seizure of a 
position on the Korean coast, Great Britain suddenly 
occupied Port Hamilton, without prior communication with 
either the suzerain State or its vassal. Though described 
as a temporary measure, the act was an open violation of 
international law and comity; and the British Foreign Office 
when challenged by the Chinese Government, could offer 
no defence except that, if Great Britain had not occupied 
that port, another Power would probably have done so. 

In the following year Britain annexed Burma 
the act of which Lord Randolph Churchill was so 
proud and Japan saw China brought further under 
British domination. 

Knowing Britain s record for forceful seizure and 
annexation, not only in the East but also in Africa, 
and remembering the clauses of the recently re 
luctantly abandoned Anglo- Japanese treaties, the 
Japanese statesmen were amazed to find their old 
ally refusing to recognize the new independent State 
of Manchukuo, which Japan had not even annexed 
or acquired" as Britain had annexed Burma and 
"acquired" Hong Kong. Britain s refusal to acknow 
ledge the new State turned Japan s ancient friend 
ship into distrust and hatred. 

No half-hearted action by a truncated League of 
Nations couldstopjapan sprogress in Manchuria. Arms 
might have stopped it. But thanks to Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald and Mr. Stanley Baldwin, Britain, 
a Far Eastern Power, had no arms for the purpose. 



174 THE END OF EDENISM 

It is contendable that Mr. Eden, had he seen fit, 
could have remedied the ill-ease between Britain and 
Japan when he took power at the Foreign Office. He 
had been closely linked in the mind of the world with 
M. Litvinof, the Foreign Minister of a Government 
which Britain had once sworn not to recognise. If 
he could swallow the Russian camel in this way, he 
might have refused to strain at the Japanese gnat. 
Japan s offence against morality was as nothing 
compared with the murderous record of Russia. 
Japan had, indeed, done nothing but emulate in the 
twentieth century Britain s example in the nine 
teenth, but the Russian Government had bathed 
Russia in blood, swamped both East and West with 
subversive propaganda, and outraged whatever 
ChristianprinciplesGreatBritainstillof&ciallyboasted. 
Mr. Eden did not, however, choose to reverse the 
policy of his predecessors and recognise Manchukuo. 
He preferred to retain in being the high feelings 
between powerfully armed Japan and weak Britain. 
In the July of 1937 new trouble arose between 
China and Japan. On December 12th, 1936 
mutinous Chinese troops had kidnapped General 
Chiang Kai-Shek, the Premier, with the hope of 
forming a new Government and declaring war on 
Japan. The project failed, but on July 7th, 1937, 
while Japanese troops were conducting field exercises 
near Wangping, about thirty miles from Peking, 
Chinese troops mistook a sham attack at a bridge 
for a real one. Fighting occurred. The following 
day martial law was declared in Peking. More 



THE END OF EDENISM 175 

fighting took place, although both sides withdrew 
troops. On the llth Japan ordered troops into 
China and on the 15th partially mobilised and moved 
forward reinforcements. 

The previous clash which had resulted in the 
constitution of Manchukuo had shown that neither 
Britain nor any other European Power had any 
effective standing in the Far East, but on July 
13th Mr. Eden told the Chinese and Japanese 
Ambassadors that he hoped neither nation would 
make the clash at Peking a matter of prestige. No 
doubt these diplomatic representatives received this 
hope with dignity; had they been diplomatic laymen 
unversed in the mysteries of foreign policy and its 
usages they might have been tempted to ask what 
business it was of Great Britain s what either side 
made of the incident. Britain would certainly have 
made some such reply if a Japanese Foreign Minister 
had addressed such a hope to a British and Sinn Fein 
representative at the time of the Irish trouble. One 
thing, however, was certain. Mr. Eden was not 
again, on Britain s behalf, going to take the lead in 
imposing sanctions. 

* It is highly important to note how strong a blow 
this was to the prestige" of the League of Nations, 
Sanctions had been imposed on Italy for her action 
in regard to Abyssinia. They had not been imposed 
on Germany for her action in secretly re-arming and 
occupying the Rhindand. They were not to be 
imposed on Japan. If the League had any real basis 
it was a moral basis. But you cannot have a 



176 THE END OF EDENISM 

topographical morality. The German frontier was 
uncomfortably near to vulnerable Britain in days of 
high-speed bombing planes; Japan was uncomfort- 
al^ly far away. War with Germany provoked by 
sanctions would uncover the virtually defenceless 
forty-seven millions of people in the British Isles. 
War with Japan would uncover almost the whole of 
the Empire. Morality had to give way to ex 
pediency, and rightly so, but the basis of the League 
was hopelessly damaged thereby. 

Between the outbreak of hostilities in the Far East 
in the July of 1937 and the July of 1938, when these 
pages are being written, Japan made rapid progress 
in the Chinese provinces. This volume is no place 
for a detailed history of that progress. It is here 
sufficient to say that with even her relatively weak 
air force and the highly mechanised army which she 
had created, Japan not only drove back the Chinese, 
but began to display force in quarters where British 
interests were very closely affected. Incident after 
incident occurred in which Britain was affronted" with 
complete impunity, although from time to time 
apologies of doubtful sincerity were tendered. One 
of the earliest of these incidents was the bombing and 
machine-gunning of the British Ambassador to China 
by planes flying low over his easily identifiable car. 
This drew from London a strong protest and a 
request for a formal apology with assurances that 
such incidents would not recur. Not until a month 
had passed was any form of apology received, but 
within a very few weeks Japanese planes had 



THE END OF EDENISM 177 

machine-gunned cars in which members of the 
British embassy were travelling near to Shanghai 
and had killed at his post a sentry of the Royal Ulster 
Rifles. A victory march conducted by Japan through 
the Foreign Settlements was accompanied by the 
hauling down of the British flag. 

This was the pass to which the once dominant 
power in the East had been reduced. The ignominy 
was the direct result of three things: 
Britain s lack of arms. 

The exposure at Geneva in 1935 of Britain s 
inability successfully to invoke any form of 
collective action against aggressive, well-armed 
States. 

The enmity created in Japan by the British 
refusal to recognise the independent State of 
Manchukuo. 

How low Britain had sunk in the world may be 
gauged from a speech delivered by Mr. Eden to the 
House of Commons on December 21st, 1937, when 
he said: 

Now I will come back to what is clearly our cliief pre 
occupation at this juncture, and that is the situation in the 
Far East. . . 

In the present conditions there are three principles 
which, I think, must guide us in the Far East. The first, that 
we must do all that we honourably can to secure the restora 
tion of peace. The second, that we must do our full share 
with others in the fulfilment of our international obligations. 
The third, that we must protect our own interests, and, of 
course, British territory. 
There is a very important aspect of this Far Eastern 



178 THE END OF EDENISM 

situation which is, perhaps, the only one to-day that one 
can view with satisfaction. It is the fact that we are con 
stantly and daily in close consultation with the Government 
of the United States. Over and over again we have taken 
either parallel or similar action, and that in itself is an 
indication of the closeness of such collaboration. 

I cannot say more on that subject to-night, but I would 
say this it would be wrong, with the world as it is to-day, 
if we were to deny our own authority or belittle the firmness 
or significance of our friendships. This country is not without 
friends in the world to-day. Reference has been made to 
France and to the United States. It would be equally easy 
to make reference to that large group of countries, the 
Balkan Entente and the Little Entente, stretching from 
Turkey right through Czechoslovakia, with each member of 
which we have close and intimate relations of friendship. 

To prove that it is only necessary to draw attention to 
the speeches of Turkish Ministers or to the very remarkable 
declaration of the Rumanian Prime Minister the other day 
that the first item on her list of objectives was a broader 
development of her relations with Great Britain. . . 

Most important of all are the relations of the British 
Commonwealth of Nations with the United States. There 
is not, and there cannot be, any question of treaty or of 
entanglements, but there is a true community of outlook, 
and it is that which can prove an invaluable asset in the 
maintenance of peace which is the first and greatest desire 
of the people of the British Commonwealth and the people 
of the United States alike. 

That passage, studied in cold blood, and away 
from the warm air of rhetorical delivery, is re 
markable. What it really means is this: 

We have lost the friendship of Japan, Germany and Italy, 
all well-armed nations whose enmity can, be dangerous to 
us, but we have hopes of the friendship of Rumania and 



THE END OF EDENISM 179 

Turkey to protect us. And, although the United States, 
because of its avowed policy of neutrality, cannot make 
treaties or enter into entanglements, we derive a mystic 
satisfaction from their known friendship, although we have 
offended their people by defaulting on our debt and are 
generally regarded as aching to drag them into a forbidden 
entanglement either in Europe or the East to save our 
skins at their expense. 

In that speech, whether as delivered or as I have 
just paraphrased it, is the true yield of Great Britain 
from the foreign policy which can most conveniently 
be called Edenism. The gain to Britain is that 
Turkey and Rumania hope to broaden their friend 
ship for Britain and that Britain and the United 
States both agree that peace is a desirable thing. 
Neither Turkey nor Rumania, neither France nor 
Russia, and no combination of any or all of them, 
can defend the ports of London, Liverpool, Hull and 
Southampton, on which we depend for our necessary 
food, from raiding air bombers. Many thousands of 
miles of ocean prevent any possible Anglo-American 
combination from menacing Japan, and the complete 
failure of President Roosevelt s "quarantine the 
aggressors" speech at Chicago in the Autumn of 1937 
shows that no combination is possible, whether it 
would be effective or ineffective. 

How lacking in power to set to rights the muddled 
and dangerous state of British international relations 
"Edenism" had become was amply demonstrated 
towards the end of 1937 by two of the strangest 
episodes in our diplomatic history. The first of these 



180 THE END OF EDENISM 

was the visit of Lord Halifax to Herr Hitler. The 
second was the abortive Brussels Conference. The 
first was, and is here, a digression from the pre-occu- 
pation with the Far East of which Mr. Eden spoke. 

The visit of Lord Halifax to Germany could have 
had no other purpose than that of repairing the 
damage done by the Eden questionnaire and the 
general line of Mr. Eden s foreign policy. It, perhaps, 
signalised the first clash within the Cabinet of 
Edenism and Chamberlainism. The visit was made 
at the desire of Britain, not that of Germany. The 
fit and proper person normally to make such a visit 
to Herr Hitler would have been either the British 
Ambassador to Berlin or the British Foreign Sec 
retary in person. That another member of the 
Government was selected proves beyond a per- 
adventure that Mr. Eden s colleagues no longer 
trusted his qualities in such circumstances as those 
surroundinga talk with the head of aTotalitarian State. 

It was freely said at that time that Mr. Eden was 
affronted either by the project of such a visit or by 
the selection of some other Minister than himself to 
make it, or possibly by both. Affronted or not, he 
permitted his colleague to undertake the task without 
himself relinquishing Office or pressing his objections 
to the point of Cabinet disruption. That the decision 
to send Lord Halifax was wise cannot be doubted. 
In Germany Mr. Eden would have been persona nan 
grata, and his temperament made him a doubtful 
negotiator of delicate points. It had once involved 
him in some friction with Signor Mussolini and led 



THE END OF EDENISM 181 

to an altercation at the Brussels Conference with 
Mr. Norman Davies of the United States. 

Of the fruits of the Halifax visit the country has 
never been given a clear view. Information from 
private sources led knowledgeable persons to believe 
that Lord Halifax was plainly told what were the 
two essential German demands the return of the 
ex-colonies and a declaration from Britain that 
Central Europe is a German and not -a British 
diplomatic concern. 

The course of the visit demonstrated, to any one 
who cared to deduce the obvious, that, after four 
years of Edenism, Germany no longer regarded 
Britain as a potentially friendly Power or as a Power 
whose diplomatic feelings need be particularly con 
sidered. When Lord Halifax, a very important 
British personage, an ex-Viceroy of India, arrived in 
Germany there was some delay in arranging for his 
despatch to Herr Hitler s country residence. When 
he arrived at that country residence, the talk was 
relatively brief. Both visitor and host were to go 
that day to Munich. The guest was sent back by 
the ordinary train, although the host was leaving a 
little while afterwards in a special train that made 
the journey in greater comfort and with greater 
speed. It would be straining evidence to deduce 
from these things that the British Minister was shown 
as plainly as elementary courtesy permitted that his 
standing with his German hosts was not as high as 
it might have been, but it is no straining of evidence 
to deduce that the German leader did not particularly 
13 



182 THE END OF EDENISM 

relish the visit and, during it, gave very little 
diplomatic satisfaction to his guest. 

This visit took place about a fortnight after the 
signing at Rome of an anti-Communist Pact by 
Italy, Germany and Japan. Between these two 
events was held the Brussels Conference, which sent 
a deferential note to Japan asking her to submit her 
case to the Powers there represented. Japan quite 
firmly refused. 

The Powers represented at Brussels derived any 
authority they might have from a contention that 
Japan had outraged the Nine Power Treaty of 1922, 
commonly called the Washington Treaty, and that 
all parties were equally bound by the Kellogg-Briand 
Pact of Paris of 1928. Japan declared that as her 
military action had been taken in defence, she had 
not violated these Pacts, and refused even tacitly to 
admit any such violation by allowing the Powers 
concerned to sit on her case. 

As a result of this flat defiance of the Conference 
no further action was taken by the assembled 
Powers. "Collective security" had again proved 
futile. It had shown itself as an empty phrase at 
the very time that President Roosevelt had suggested 
to the world that the aggressor nations should be 
quarantined. The failure of the Conference, un 
fortunately, redounded to the discredit of the British 
Foreign Office. The Conference was unquestionably 
promoted by Britain, whose action was apparently 
influenced by the Roosevelt speech. It so happened 
that the present writer was in the United States when 



THE END OF EDEN ISM 183 

that speech was delivered and during the whole 
period of the convening, sitting and abandonment 
of the Brussels meeting. It was transparent to the 
most casual observer that no section of opinion in 
America was in favour of joining with any European 
power or group of Powers in an endeavour to dap 
handcuffs on Japan. It was also obvious that such 
would be the permanent attitude of the United 
States. A properly conducted Foreign Office in 
London would have known of this aspect of the 
situation, and, knowing it, would never have em 
barked upon the Brussels farce. Faulty information, 
it may be argued, is not the fault but the misfortune 
of a Foreign Secretary, but surely it is the primary 
duty of a Minister for Foreign Affairs to secure sound 
information. A secret service which is allowed 
merely to feed the prejudices and antagonisms of the 
Office or the Chief it serves is a grave danger. Under 
such a service a true picture of nations in swift 
transition, like Germany, France, Italy, Japan and 
Russia, can never reach the Cabinet. 

It was no one clash of view which brought Mr. 
Eden to resignation. Even the sketchy outline of 
this book shows how his personality and policy had 
brought Britain as an international influence to 
nullity. The Abyssinian debacle, the folly of the 
German questionnaire, the repeated rebuffs suffered 
through the Spanish and Japanese wars, and the 
perpetual and increasing jeopardy in which Britain, 
still relatively unarmed and undefended, was com 
pelled to stand were the measure of his unsuccess. 



184 THE END OF EDENISM 

At awkward moments the young Foreign Minister 
had been superseded by others of his colleagues, by 
Mr. Chamberlain, by Lord Halifax. To the cheering 
and semi-hysterical masses who thronged the Albert 
Hall to pass resolutions denouncing dictatorship he 
seemed a crusading Galahad, but to those who knew 
exactly where his crusade was tending he seemed an 
exceedingly dangerous person. A policy which con 
sistently drove Britain towards armed conflict with 
the Rome-Berlin-Tokio axis might satisfy the pre 
judices of those who screamed for disarmament with 
one breath and for action against the Dictators with 
the next; it could not satisfy more reasonable people 
who knew how vulnerable Britain was in the face of 
aerial and submarine attack, and who saw no reason 
why the millions of Britain should be sacrificed to 
gratify the dictatorship of Moscow and to protect a 
non-existent democracy in Spain. 

With Mr. Eden s resignation there came an abrupt 
change of major foreign policy. With Lord Halifax 
as his Foreign Secretary, Mr. Chamberlain assumed a 
personal responsibility for the direction of that 
policy more direct than that of any other modern 
Premier not bearing dual office, except Mr .Lloyd George. 

The basis of the new policy was expressed suc 
cinctly in a speech on July 27th when the Prime 
Minister declared that in his belief a democracy 
could be on terms of friendship with a dictatorship. 
It had its first practical application in the tentative 
agreement with Italy and withstood its first test 
when Germany incorporated Austria into the Reich 
without bloodshed in March, 1938. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE COST OF WAR AND THE PRICE OF PEACE 

We must have peace, let it be a bad or a good one though nobody 
dares talk of it. 

DEAN SWIFT. 

THE apparent causes for the development of the 
present position in Europe are three. The 
first is Britain s chivalrous, but at thesame time 
not disinterested, folly in allowing herself to remain 
unarmed while Europe armed openly and Germany 
secretly. The second is the failure to realise that 
Geneva could not offer collective security if the 
League were not all-inclusive. The third is the 
failure of the victors in the Great War, working 
through Geneva, to redress as an act of generosity, 
if not of justice, the transparent grievances of Ger 
many under the Treaty of Versailles, 

To those causes all present ills can be traced. 
Behind those general causes was another peculiar to 
Great Britain. This was the strange illusion that 
peace was, and would remain, the universal desire. 
The wretched division of nations into the "haves" 
and the "have note" need not of necessity presage 
war. It must certainly do so if the "haves" remain 
obdurate in the face first of appeals and next of 
demands for a more equitable division of tenitory. 
But even if territorial adjustments could be graciously 
and amicably made, there remains in the make-up of 
many nations, particularly those who have either 

i*5 



i86 THE COST OF WAR 

suffered the odium of defeat or the chagrin of waiting 
long for the fulfilment of ambition, a desire for 
national glory achieved by triumph under arms. 
Italy s burning wish, cherished for more than a 
generation, to avenge the slaughter and mutilations 
of Adowa; Germany s desire to demonstrate that 
defeat by blockade did not imply inferiority; Japan s 
patent design to emulate, in the East, Britain s 
career of Imperial aggrandisement in the West 
these are among the prime potencies that move 
mankind. In January, 1938, Commander Naoki 
Saito analysed the situation in the Far East in two 
blunt sentences. "An Anglo- Japanese war is a cer 
tainty. The military development of Italy, Germany 
and Japan would prevent Britain sending a strong 
fleet to the East." In Europe, Germany s march 
into Austria left no doubt that if war is not 
sought it is certainly not feared by the re-armed 
State. 

In a world containing 55,500,000 square miles of 
land it is regrettable that some 2,000,000,000 people 
cannot live without recourse to violence, just as it is 
regrettable that with all the inventions and dis 
coveries of mankind the peoples cannot live without 
the presence among them of social inequalities, 
penury, distress and uncertainty. But these things 
are. Bewail and denounce them as you will, they 
remain the realities of human life. Any policy which 
ignores them, which pretends that they are different 
from what they are, which underrates them, is a 
policy leading to disaster. 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 187 

For nearly two decades after the end of the War 
of 1914-18 it was the fashion in England to denounce 
as a war monger any citizen who warned his fellows 
that their lack of adequate defences was itself an 
invitation to attack. It was also the fashion to 
decry as a friend of Fascism any citizen who insisted 
upon drawing attention to the efficiency and intensity 
of the warlike preparations of the Fascist States. It 
was as if a man said to a fellow lodger, "There are 
some ugly-looking fellows all round our garden armed 
with sawn-off shot guns and knuckle-dusters; hadn t 
we better get our revolvers? " and was immediately 
accused of being a pro-gangster. 

Even more strange was the popular treatment of 
those who implored the nation to change with a 
changing outer world and concentrate above all else 
upon organising the imperilled community against a 
possible, if not a probable, day of military or economic 
disaster. These were denounced as foes to liberty 
or as the instruments of some capitalistic plot to 
enslave the workers. Here, indeed, was an example 
of that lack of imagination of which I have earlier 
spoken. Men surrounded by possibly hostile tribes 
when asked to renounce some little leisure to build 
a stockade and to practise manning it against assault 
would not so place individual liberty against com 
munal security. Men in a garrison warned that 
unless short rations were contemplated the day of 
starvation might dawn would not so readily suspect 
a mysterious plot, however unevenly rations might 
be shared. These two analogies to the state of 



i88 THE COST OF WAR 

Britain axe not strained. They are exceedingly close 
to the reality. 

This conduct in the British was at once the basis 
and the result of the false policy which was pursued 
before the advent of the Chamberlain Ministry. The 
community was encouraged in cherishing two beliefs. 
One was that the waters still provided Britain with 
a natural stockade which the navy could perpetually 
man. The other was that no attack was possible 
because the Geneva nations collectively could over 
awe any potential aggressor. 

Of the first of these beliefs the national mind has 
now been disabused. It has been made clear even 
to slow intelligences that hundreds of aeroplanes, 
each flying at or over 200 miles an hour, each canying 
many tons of bombs high-explosive bombs, gas- 
filled bombs, thermite bombs for causing fires 
despatched in "bee formation/ that is, in pairs, 
with one plane of each pair at, say, 20,000 feet and 
the other at about 2,000, can not only "leap-frog" 
the narrow waters and ignore a floating fleet, but 
can also successfully baffle an interceptor fleet of 
fighting planes and defy the ground defences. Some 
planes of such an armada would be brought down, 
but the percentage would be pitifully low. 

The technique of the "silent approach," developed 
in Barcelona, and graphically described by Mr. John 
Langdon-Davies in his "Air Raid,"* which would 
permit enemy planes to cover without noise the 
last two hundred miles of their hostile flight, has 

*Published by Routledge. 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 



destroyed the last vestige of comfort from sur 
rounding waters and guarding battleships. 

The second belief, in the efficacy of Collective 
Security, wavered with Abyssinia and disappeared 
save in a very few minds with the progress of the 
war in China and the seizure of Austria. 

In the history of the premature and abortive 
attempt to organise such collective security, Austria 
will have a specially important place. When in 
1934 the then Chancellor of Austria was murdered, 
there was suspected an imminent danger of a Nazi 
coup. Signor Mussolini, without hesitation, rushed 
his artillery to the Brenner Pass, for to Italy at that 
time the preservation of the independence of Austria 
was vital. In March, 1938, when the Nazis took 
Austria, Signor Mussolini was entirely quiescent. 
As he said at Genoa the following week-end, much 
water had flowed under the bridges of the Thames, 
the Spree and the Tiber since 1934. The futile 
application of sanctions to Italy and the action of 
Great Britain in uttering at Stresa no warning of her 
intention to press on those sanctions at Geneva had 
linked Italy to Germany and made the independence 
of Austria no longer a matter of moment to her- 
As both these nations and their Eastern associate, 
Japan, were inimical to the League of Nations, and 
as the United States and some other nations were 
not of the League, Geneva could not offer collective 
security. It could only offer to co-ordinate its own 
States in opposition to the League ddSers. As 
Germany, Italy and Japan had concentrated with 



THE COST OF WAR 



great sacrifice and effort upon arming and training 
themselves for war, no such co-ordination could offer 
anything approaching security. 

Collective Security, in any event, could only be a 
doubtful protection to the crowded forty-seven 
millions of Great Britain. Her situation, as this 
book has earlier tried to demonstrate, is unique in 
its danger. Before 1914 an.d the quick subsequent 
development of military aircraft, Britain could always, 
upon the outbreak of war, rely upon a short space of 
time, whether in weeks or months, in which to 
prepare her fighting machine. She could rely upon 
a few days in which to move an expeditionary force. 
She might count on many weeks in which to call 
together and prepare a citizen army, as "Kitchener s 
Army" was summoned and prepared. However 
short that time-lag, it would be sufficient to allow her 
allies to engage the enemy, as Belgium and France 
engaged the Germans in 1914.- 

To-day that time-lag does not exist. If Britain, 
as one of a group of "collective security nations, 
were attacked from the air, her principal ports, the 
mouths through which her people are fed, would be 
immediately under bombardment. At best, her 
intaking and distributing facilities would be seriously 
impaired, perhaps to the point of social disorder. At 
worst, the nation would be suddenly plunged into 
the horrors hitherto known only after a long naval 
blockade. In addition the fourteen millions within 
a circle of London and the eight or more millions in 
the Leeds-Liverpool belt of congested townships 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 191 

would be subjected to heavy bombing and their 
water and milk supplies disrupted. The retaliatory 
action of the Collective Security allies would not save 
Britain. She would be out of the ring before the 
fight began. This disability for modern conflict is 
shared by no other European nation, for no other 
depends upon vast quantities of food-stuffs delivered 
through four key ports. 

It may be said that such a "defeatist 7 picture 
would be equally true of a Britain relying upon her 
own defensive and retaliatory forces. We have, 
indeed, to face the fact that retaliatory f orces cannot 
save, but only avenge. The hope, of course, is that 
if enemy pilots know that their attack will release 
such retaliation that they will have nowhere to which 
to return, they will never start, that foreign statesmen 
will not invite the ruin of their own people from such 
retaliation. In this regard the difference between 
national defensive and retaliatory forces and those 
proposed to be applied by a group of collective 
security allies is that the one will be loosed im 
mediately and without hesitation while the other 
may fail to apply itself. To put the matter simply, 
if nation "A" attacks nation "B," and nation "B" 
has large forces, they move at once. If, however, 
nation "A." attacks nation "B" and nation "B" nelies 
upon collective security, there may be a delay while 
responsibility for provocation or aggression is in 
vestigated, or some of the collective security nations 
may actually be false to their pledges and side with 
the attacker. We have seen such delays over the 



192 THE COST OF WAR 

Wai- Wai incident and the murder of the Japanese 
officer which launched the war in the Far East. 

The whole matter can best be put bluntly, thus: 
against the mutual destructiveness of modern air 
forces there is probably no sure defence. A strong 
retaliatory air force and good ground defences are the 
first essential. The support of either diplomatically 
interested allies or of such nations, if any, as are 
prepared to take arms against aggression as such, is 
the desirable adjunct to national preparedness. If 
these fail to avert war, certain nations, until science 
has found a defensive counter to air bombing, will 
be more vulnerable than others. They must accept 
encounter under a very heavy natural handicap. 
They must offer encounter only under the most 
supreme necessity. Of these nations Britain is one. 
No individual bravery, no collective courage, can 
alter this circumstance, any more than individual 
bravery or collective courage can alter the fact that 
of two groups of people in a mine disaster, one may 
be fatally trapped and the other not. No com 
mendable moral purpose will affect that handicap, 
for bombs do not distinguish between motives in 
combatants. God is still on the side of the heavy 
battalions. It is, in short, no longer defeat in war 
that is to be feared it is war itself. 

This being so, and only those blind to physical 
facts will dispute that it is so, it follows that the first 
duty of an Administration is to avoid provocation, 
to avoid any suggestion that arms will be invoked 
on points of punctilio, and certainly to avoid elevating 



THE PRICE OP PEACE 193 

any one conception of right government into a fetish. 
"Let us endure an hour and see injustice done/* is 
not moral cowardice, if refusal to abide the hour may 
mean the eventual and permanent triumph of 
injustice. 

If that first duty is faithfully performed, there is 
no reason why Britain should remain the object of 
suspicion and possible attack, however heavily armed 
Europe may continue to be, and whatever Chau 
vinistic ambition Japan may display, proving 
always that an honest attempt is made to realise and 
remove the true roots of antagonism in Europe which 
are nearly all embedded in the war and peace treaties 
of 1915 to 1922. 

The simplest way of stating the major problem is 
this: Italy, Germany and Japan need and demand 
territorial expansion. This can only be denied to 
them by an ultimate reliance on the power to defeat 
them, not individually but collectively, in war. 
Hungary and Poland demand back their ravished 
peoples and territories. This can only be denied to 
them, since in principle they have the support of 
Germany and Germany s allies, on the same terms, 
reliance upon a victorious European war. Russia 
concurrently demands security, particularly against 
Japan and for her Western provinces in the Ukraine, 
and with Russia Germany will enter into no pact. 

The expansion of Italy and Germany means that, 
in the spirit of the Treaty of London (1915) Italy 
must be given a wider field in Africa and a high status 
in the Mediterranean, and Germany must be given 



i 9 4 THE COST OF WAR 

either the old German colonies, which she contends 
were taken from her by chicanery at the time of the 
Armistice and the Peace, or acceptable territories in 
lieu. Germany must also be permitted a full outlet 
on the Black Sea, Japan must be allowed the 
domination of recognised, nominally independent 
States in Manchukuo and the present battle terrain 
of China. 

Opposition to these wide and sweeping demands 
will be variously actuated. Many who would willingly 
see a broad re-adjustment of territorial possessions 
not only for the sake of peace but for the sake of 
justice, will oppose any such adjustment if it seem 
the result of blackmail or of robbery under duress 
and threat of violence. Others will resist any such 
demands on the grounds that their fulfilment must 
place the three Totalitarian-Military States of the 
Rome-Berlin-Tokio axis in a position of strategical 
and economic world dominance, which will quickly 
lead to an imposition upon all nations of Totalitarian 
rule, and that against such a development no effective 
guarantees can be extracted. Still others will main 
tain that Fascism in any form is an evil thing, and 
far from being encouraged and strengthened by 
accretions of territofy and prestige, it should be re 
pressed and fought at whatever cost. , 

With the last contention there can be no profitable 
arguing, for it really means that it would be better 
for mankind to endure the agonies and destruction of 
another world war, fought with new and modern 
implements of terror, than to endure the thought that 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 195 

people of German, Italian and Japanese stock are 
living under a system of Government which their 
majorities have chosen and support, and against 
which their minorities have shown no effective 
rebellion. It is merely an inversion of the conviction 
which many Fascists feel about Bolshevism. If one 
disagrees with the contention, one can only dispute 
its moral basis and suggest that the cost to civilisation 
of such an operation cannot have been fully and 
properly weighed. 

To the first variety of opposition there is, perhaps, 
one quick and effective reply that not until duress 
and threats, implicit or explicit, of violence were 
used did the possessive nations pay any attention 
whatsoever to the pleas and demands of those now 
demanding room for their populations to expand. 
If the demands are just, they axe no less just for being 
aggressively and arrogantly made. If justice is 
tardily done under threat of force, the aggressive 
demander may be led into demanding more than 
justice but it is then, surely, and not before that 
force should be opposed to Mm. f 

It is the remaining grounds of opposition to the 
suggested demands for changes of ownership and 
statqs that require the most careful scrawny. On 
the rightness or otherwise of these grounds must turn 
Britain s choice of policy, with all that such a choice 
implies of national danger. Re-stated, this opposi 
tion is one of frank self-interest, which suggests that 
the risks or even actualities of war are to be preferred 
to a new series of international rdationships which 



196 THE COST OF WAR 

will enable the Totalitarian States at their con 
venience either to conquer or dominate those who 
now meet their demands. Any concession, it is held, 
made to such States will in reality be aid to their 
greater arming power and a stimulation of their 
predatory and subjugating ambition. "Refuse such 
demands now, and fight if necessary, for otherwise 
you will have to fight when the enemy is much 
better furnished with munitions and supplies." That 
is the attitude, either coupled with a denial or an 
acknowledgement of the justice of the demands 
which are to be refused. 

On this attitude several comments can be made. 
If it is assumed that the demands are just, and 
morally should be met if, that is, only the ex 
pediency of the concessions is doubted the argument 
that an aidjustment of territory and status only 
postpones a conflict to the advantage of the potential 
enemy is of doubtful validity. It is not the potential 
enemy alone who will be able to use the time gained 
in preparation for armed clash. It has also to be 
demonstrated that no effective guarantees against 
further avariciousness can be extracted. It is widely 
held that the word of the Totalitarian Powers to a 
treaty cannot be trusted. Not only has the Treaty 
of Versailles been openly and boastfully broken by 
Germany, but the integrity of Austria has been 
outraged after various assurances that it would be 
respected. With these things in mind, what treaties 
made after primary expansion by the "have-not" 
States could be trusted? Would concessions be any 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 197 

better than ineffectual "danegeld?" Low s comment 
on the twenty-five year peace pact offer to France 
"What will you give me not to kick you in the 
pants for, say, twenty-five years?" conies im 
mediately to the mind. Here is the real defeatism. 
If no word can be trusted, the ultimate triumph of 
superior force is inevitable. But even so, common 
sense would dictate the just redress of grievances, 
the extraction of guarantees and pledges, and a 
readiness to take action if those guarantees and 
pledges are broken. 

Thus far, on the assumption that the German, 
Italian and Japanese claims to expansion are 
reasonable and just, all argument wouM seem to lie 
on the side of concessions being made gracefully, 
without bad blood, and certainly without protracted 
reluctance. * 

Are the claims reasonable and just? The position 
of Germany differs from that of the other two. 
There can be no denial that the Treaty which rent 
her possessions from her was not the Treaty that she 
had been led to expect on the pre-armistice terms. 
Italy, also, has a strong case, inasmuch as she was 
not given all that was promised her under the Treaty 
of 1915 and that a great portion of what oiff genera 
tion calls France is Italian Jby tradition and pre 
ponderance of racial stock. That portion includes 
the very birthplace of the Ita.lia.-n liberator, Garibaldi 
What of Japan? Japan s claim to dominance in the 
Far East is exactly Britain s original claim to so 
much of her own Empire that lands under the sway 



THE COST OF WAR 



of savagery and brigandage, whose material wealth 
is^iatj^xploited for the good of the human family, 
are legitimate lands for the acquirement of more 
forward people. When the forward people are 
themselves cooped in inadequate territories, self- 
preservation can know no law. 

Japan, in such circumstances, may well ask who 
made Britain a judge of morality. Britain, having 
herself outgrown the need for Imperialism backed by 
machine guns, may retort that the world has come 
into a new dispensation, but until she offers signs of a 
change of heart by the relinquishment of her own 
force-gained possessions, the new dispensation will 
only seem to be a claim for a statute of limitations on 
stolen property. 

With Japan, as with the European nations, a 
Britain superbly armed could deal arrogantly. Britain 
in the throes of a tardy rearmament can only urge a 
morality of behaviour which Japan despises and 
meets with a tu quoque. 

In considering such a position there is always this 
to be remembered, that although the Press and the 
platform hurl invective at the strongly armed 
claimants to concessions as aggressors and blackmail 
ers, the facts are that the Abyssinian war began with 
the repeated murders of, and assaults upon, Italians; 
the Cino- Japanese war began with the murder of 
Japanese; and the Spanish war began with the 
murder and outraging of anti-Red citizens and 
religionists. The ideology which brought into being 
and into Power the Totalitarian States was not 



THE PRICE OF PEACE 199 

Fascism; it was Bolshevism, to which Fascism was the 
only effective answer. If Britain and the so-called 
democracies of the world fear Fascism, they have 
more to fear from its antithesis. In one aspect, 
Signor Mussolini or Herr Hitler may look menacingly 
like Attila, but from another he appears rather as a 
Don John of Austria saving Europe from the flood 
tide of an alien and devastating philosophy of govern 
ment. If, in the East, Japan secures territory not 
only adequate for her populations* needs but also for 
her strategical safety, afid if, in the West, Italy and 
Germany are able to f^fel secure against any com 
bination of anti-Fascist, Russian-inspired States by 
the same kind of accession of territories, an epoch 
of world peace might weU be attained^ during which 
the progress of education/mJie*^ hand, and the 
increase in mechanical destructive power, on the 
other hand, imght end the threat of international wars 
for ever, yfcd of the need to haggle and bicker for 
temporary diplomatic advantages and to exert great 
effort and expend great wealth on protective and 
mutually-threatening armaments, the leading nations 
of the world could then turn their combined attention 
to that amendment in the world s economic organisa 
tion which is the real pressing need of mankind 

The alternative and the only alternative is 
conflict, and in a new conflict no man, can say where 
conquest will lie. No nation, however well prepared 
it may seem, can afford to take the risk of such 
hazard. Each needs peace and peace at any price, 
except helotry. 



CHAPTER XIII 

MANDATES 



. . . the whole of Germany s colonial Empire was taken from her and 
divided among the Allies. This drastic action contrasted in a marked 
way with the policy pursued by Bismarck when France lay at his mercy 
in 1871. He had encouraged her to form colonial ambitions, as an outlet 
for her energy and a compensation for her defeated hopes. In 1919, on 
the other hand, Germany truncated, disarmed and loaded with impossible - 
obligations was deprived of any outlet for her energies in the non- 
European world. 

RAMSAY MUIR, A Brief History of Our Own Times^ 

MR. CHAMBERLAIN S policy of friendship 
with the totalitarian States no more means 
wholehearted approval of all their doings and 
a wish to emulate them than friendship with Russia 
means wholehearted approval of Bolshevism and a 
wish to copy it, or than friendship with the old 
Abyssinia meant a wholehearted approval of slavery 
and a wish to reintroduce it into Great Britain. 
It does mean a return to the sound principles of 
George Canning, quoted earlier as an introduction to 
Chapter VII of this book. 
It means that, once again: 

To preserve the peace of the world is the leading object of 
the policy of England. For this purpose it is necessary in the 
first place to prevent the breaking out of new quarrels; in the 
second place, to compose, where it can be done by friendly 
mediation, existing differences; thirdly, where this is hopeless, 
to narrow as much as possible their range; and fourthly 
to maintain for ourselves an imperturbable neutrality in att 
cases where nothing occurs to affect injuriously our interests 
or our honour. 



MANDATES 201 



Those who hold that Britain may date her decline 
or destruction from her failure actively to intervene 
by force of arms in either the Abyssinian or the 
Spanish wars are surely in error in desiring Britain 
to choose such a mid-moment for action. When 
Hitler in 1934 confronted the world with his first 
major breach of the Treaty of Versailles, the Allies 
might have hoped with some success to attack 
Germany. But for a Britain that had not re-anned 
to force a war on^a combination of States in 1935 
or later would have been disastrous. The British 
democracy has not been educated into the mood 
when it can or will fight a preventive war. Since 
1918 the martial spirit has been derided and rebuked. 
No complete change in the national psychology would 
have been wrought by a call to the arms that weren t 
there to challenge the linked Dictators. The further 
Britain departed from her "imperturbable neutrality" 
the nearer she came to the imminent risk of defeat 
by aerial attack on her undefended ports and people. 
Now that, under Mr. Neville Chamberlain, she has 
returned to such neutrality, war may come, but it 
will not be by her provocation. The chances of 
disaster are lessened. 

"Imperturbable neutrality" does not mean that 
diplomatic isolation for which certain publicists long, 
nor does it mean ignoring the means to world 
appeasement. 

It is quite obvious that the two main ^ 
of world appeasement are: 

A redistribution of the Mstodates. 



202 MANDATES 



The conclusion of Anglo-German and Anglo- 
Japanese pacts on the lines of the recent 
Anglo-Italian agreement. 

The redistribution of the Mandates is a matter on 
which much confusion of mind exists. The Mandated 
Territories were put in charge of the various Man 
datory Powers by the Allied nations after the War; 
they are under the supervision of the League of 
Nations. The reason for the creation of the man 
datory system was complex. After the War, despite 
the avowals that no territorial aggrandisement was 
contemplated, the victors were loth to give back the 
German and Turkish lands which they had conquered 
at great sacrifice. This reluctance was not entirely 
selfish. The native populations had in some cases 
helped the victors, and it was feared that Germany 
might wreak vengeance upon them. It was also 
feared that these lands might be used by a reviving 
Germany for the recruitment and training of native 
armies, such as Britain and France used in the last 
War, and as bases for planes or submarines. But 
perhaps the dominant emotion at the Peace con 
ference was that Germany, a blood-guilty nation, 
had shown herself unfit to rule over other races. The 
various lands and their native populations were, 
therefore, placed in trusteeship with selected and 
appropriate victor Powers who were to administer 
them primarily for the good of the native inhabitants. 
^*iv wtftSjLot foreseen that within twenty years these 
Mandates would themselves have become acute 
friction surfaces. Those lands that were German 



MANDATES 203 



are now reclaimed by Germany, who declares, with 
some evidence, that they were taken from her by a 
breach of faith, and who denies that she was the 
blood-guilty nation. They are re-claimed by a 
Germany who resents the imputation that she cannot 
administer territories at least as peaceably as Britain 
administers shot-shattered Palestine. 

Palestine itself proffers a special problem. The 
exigencies of war caused this land to be promised to 
the Moslem Arabs. The necessity for wooing the 
goodwill of the American Jews to the Allied cause 
caused Britain to re-promise Palestine, through the 
instrument of the famous Balfour Note, to the Jews. 
In Lord Rothermere s witty phrase, the Promised 
Land became the Twice-Promised Land. 

The perpetual conflict between the Arabs and the 
Jews whom the Arabs despise as an inferior race 
would be regrettable in any circumstances. It is 
both regrettable and dangerous from the viewpoint of 
an Empire which contains no fewer than 100,000,000 
Mohammadans. Islam does not lack for self-ap 
pointed Protectors. Germany was always avid of 
the role; the Duce of Italy has assumed it. Both of 
these Powers are openly antagonistic to Jewry, The 
British mandate for Palestine thus perpetually 
disturbs the unity of the Empire, since it affronts the 
Moslem population and turns their eyes towards 
other and more capable "Protectors of Islam/* and 
equally disturbs the good European relations between 
Britain and the anti- Jewry State. 

Had Britain not taken a high moral stand at 



204 MANDATES 



Geneva about Abyssinia and China, it would have 
been possible for her to deal drastically with both 
Palestine and the North- West frontier of her Indian 
Empire. She cannot do so now. In each of these 
regions she is handicapped in dealing with raiders, 
bomb-throwers and ambush layers. Her trusteeship 
in Palestine is proving embarrassing, expensive and 
dangerous, but honour and strategic need combine 
to prevent her relinquishing it. 

Whatever be the eventual solution to the Pales 
tinian difficulty, whether through Partition or through 
some other means, faith will have been broken, and 
the prestige of the British Empire dimmed. Until 
that solution is found, the British remain in a 
position where they can "neither govern nor get out," 
and where their moral authority is weakened. 
Indignation at the treatment meted out to Jews in 
Germany only draws the hot retort that instead of 
worrying about German Jews, Britain should worry 
about "the treatment of her own Jews in Palestine." 
It is a retort hard to counter. 

With regard to the other mandated territories, 
those which were originally German, there can be 
no question of Britain s handing them to another 
Power. They are not hers. What she could do, 
however, would be to relinquish the Mandates and 
permit the Mandates Commission of the League to 
decide where they should next rest. 

The objections to this course are many. The 
Union of South Africa cannot be expected lightly to 
relinquish what was once German South West Africa, 



MANDATES 205 



and the Imperial Parliament would view appre 
hensively the possession by Germany of Tanganyika, 
which is a key point for aerial communications and 
of great strategical importance. Into the Mandated 
Territories has been directed much capital and effort 
by British nationals relying on the Governments not 
changing. To pass them or their property into 
German hands to be administered under an alien and 
mistrusted system would be tantamount to treachery. 
These nationals would have the same great grievance 
as the remnants of the expropriated Loyalists of 
Southern Ireland. At the same time, it is arguable 
whether a Mandate should ever have been regarded 
as a permanent mode of Government. It is not 
incumbent upon a trustee to maintain an obligation 
merely because the beneficiary demands that he shall 
not relinquish it, and there is certainly no implied 
permanence in such a relationship. 

The stress of the problem can be grasped if it 
be imagined that Germany has demanded formally 
the return of the territories taken from her by defeat 
in war, and is threatening a new war for their 
ownership if an immediate satisfactory reply is not 
given to her request. Such an ultimatum would 
bring the issue to a few simple questions: 

Is the retention of the Mandates an adequate 
cause for a destructive and possibly fatal war? 

Is Britain and are the other Allied Powers who 
created the Mandates prepared for such a war? 

Is Germany prepared to accept territory in lieu 
of her old possessions? 



206 MANDATES 



The first question must be answered individually 
by each student of the position. Morally it turns 
upon whether or not the German charges are sustained 
that the pre-Armistice terms were broken by the 
Treaty. If those charges are sustained, then the 
return of the Mandated Territories would be a bad 
and insufficient cause for a destructive war, unless 
their retention were of such overwhelming importance 
strategically that one piece of moral obliquity had 
perforce to follow another. 

The second question that of preparation has 
two phases: it is not merely a question of whether 
Britain and her allies have sufficient arms and 
military resources to endure and possibly win a war 
with Germany and her Allies, but it is also a question 
whether in winning such a war the true loss would 
not be far greater than the apparent gain. Are the 
nations prepared to face such a loss? 

The answer to the third question is Germany 
prepared to accept territories in lieu of the old 
Colonies? has yet to be explored. The argument 
that the demand for Colonies turns on their economic 
value to their possessors is valueless. We know from 
speeches publicly made that, in the German mind, 
prestige weighs as heavily as economic value. The 
willing ceding of territory with adequate economic 
value and with full acknowledgment of Germany s 
political status would certainly meet Germany s need. 
Her necessity is not only for land on which to settle 
some of her surplus population; it is also for an 
extended area in which her own currency will be 



MANDATES 207 



valid, so that increased commerce will not depend 
upon increased reliance upon the command of foreign 
exchange. But whether meeting Germany s need in 
this way will also satisfy her aspiration to recover 
the actual lands that were rent from her, is not to be 
known until the question is faced practically by the 
statesmen concerned. 

That sooner or later the demand for the ex-Colonies 
will be formally made we know with certainty. It is 
not possible for men of the type of Herr Hitler and 
Field-Marshal GQring to make that demand a matter of 
public agitation without eventually transferring plat 
form and radio rhetoric to the written diplomatic word. 

When that transference is made Britain s choice 
cannot be other than: 

(a) A blunt refusal, involving the readiness to face 
war. 

(b) A readiness to renounce the Mandates to the 
League for redistribution. 

(c) A readiness to confer with the other Powers 
involved in an exploration of Germany s claims 
with a view to finding replacement territories 
which can be given and accepted without 
injustice. 

The first course is simply an avowal that the 
territories demanded were taken by force of arms 
and will be kept, if possible, by force of arms. The 
second course is a, plain recognition of the true 
responsibility of Britain and the other Mandate 
holders under the original terms of their trust. 

In the third course lies the greatest hope of an 



208 MANDATES 



amicable settlement of the question. It raises, 
however, an issue raised by any ceding of territory to 
new owners or administrators. 

Germany s moral claim to a return of her lost 
territories is based on the contention, earlier set out, 
that their seizure by the Allies was a breach of the 
pre-Armistice terms. These included, among the 
Fourteen Points, the agreement to: 

A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment 
of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the 
principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty 
the interests of the populations concerned must have equal 
weight with the equitable claims of the Government whose 
title is to be determined. 

This, as we have seen in Chapter VIII, was 
amplified in Wilson s "Four Point" speech, in which 
it was laid down that "peoples and provinces are 
not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereign 
ty as if they were chattels or pawns in a game/ 

In the creation of the Mandates themselves and of 
such post-Treaty States as Czecho-Slovakia this 
principle was certainly not strictly observed. The 
question which civilisation in its present state has to 
answer is whether it is a principle which can ever 
be truly observed. The nations were not prepared 
to make war to prevent a change of ownership in 
Abyssinia, Austria and China. Will they be pre 
pared to make war to honour the Wilsonian principle 
if it is found that war is the only alternative to the 
transference of territories in Africa and elsewhere to 
those nations which, for their survival, must have a 
wider sovereignty? Will the mothers of sons sacrifice 



MANDATES 209 



them to decide by which of several alien races 
the affairs of certain backward tribes are to be 
administered? 

It would seem that the hard choice before all 
Western nations is whether the transference of 
territories over the heads of their native populations 
must be endured for a few more generations or 
whether for the Wilsonian ideal all civilisation shall 
be again imperilled, probably with no saving of the 
principle at the end of the slaughter and destruction, 

In a "Wilsonian" world this evil choice would not 
be possible, just as in a Christian world robbery and 
violence would not make policemen necessary. In 
the world as it is, land-starved nations possessing 
military strength are as likely to demand satisfaction 
of that hunger as a food-starved mob possessing 
staves and brickbats is likely to demand satisfaction 
of natural hunger. ParnelTs grim assurance that 
you cannot set a limit to the march of a nation is, 
in short, as true to-day as when he uttered it. 

If the demand for extra territory by those Euro 
pean nations whose growing populations are allied 
to strong arms and a readiness to challenge present 
ownership by force is not to be met by war, the 
sooner a conference of the Powers for a more equitable 
distribution of lands is called, the better. Britain 
co-operating in such a conference would be faced 
from the start with the knowledge that she must 
make certain sacrifices. Her contribution to world 
peace would have to be the assent to a diminution of 
her overseas possessions leaving her Empire no larger 



210 MANDATES 



than when she fought the last war. The mere 
suggestion of such a diminution is sufficient to cause 
a veritable howl of protest from many Britons. To 
that protest the answer is the simple question whether 
an attempt to readjust territories by mutual agree 
ment, involving some sacrifice, is not better than an 
attempt to prevent any readjustment by force of 
arms, which would involve much greater material 
sacrifices. The true patriotism would be to preserve 
the economic fabric of the Empire by restoring those 
accretions of territory the desire for which (im 
mediately before we took them) we disavowed, and 
not to plunge the British civilisation into deadly 
hazard in order to attempt to bolster the injustices 
of one war by the agonies of another. 

It is declared in many quarters that the demand 
for a restoration of Colonies is only another example 
of "the Dictators bluff 1" We all know what the 
word "bluff;" means. It means the pretence to 
strength that is not really possessed. The five years 
devotion to re-armament which Germany has shown, 
at the expense of most of the amenities of life, the 
record of both Germany and Italy in the securing 
of their aims despite the protests and reprimands of 
the other Powers, does not look like bluff. Both 
these nations are to-day nations under arms. Quite 
apart from their aerial and submarine equipments, 
they have instituted and maintained a national 
discipline which subordinates every phase of social 
life to the military readiness of the whole people. 
Before mobilisation, even, Germany has under arms 



MANDATES 211 



three times the number of men that France has, and 
behind those men is a system designed to render the 
State into a fighting machine. As things are in 
1938 on the open confession of our own Parlia 
mentarians the British contribution to a new group 
of Allies would be almost negligible. Floating navies 
can no longer expect unbombed harbours to receive 
them and the troop ships they convoy. Expedition 
ary forces can no longer move unbombed across 
narrow strips of water. Why, then, should there 
be any bluff by the Totalitarian States? 

From the point of view of a patriotic Briton it is 
damnable that such a state of affairs should exist, 
but it does exist. It has to be faced. The statesmen 
who permitted Britain to remain unarmed during 
the vital years when potential or possible enemies 
were arming and the statesmen who permitted the 
goodwill of such nations to turn to enmity may 
deserve impeachment, but their mischief is done. 
Their initial betrayal of British security governs or 
should govern every phase of foreign policy to-day. 

In the face of that mischief, Britain s choice is 
plain. She can deny that the Treaty of Versailles 
was a breach of pre-Armistice faith and invite the 
more heavily armed Powers of the Rome-Berlin- 
Tokio axis to do their worst or she can admit the 
original injustice and use the utmost endeavour to 
have it redressed without resort by the appellants 
to force. 

Honour and discretion would, for once, seem to 
combine to suggest the second course. 



CHAPTER XIV 

WHITHER BRITAIN? 

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not 
down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet 
him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, 
and desireth conditions of peace." 

(Gospel according to St. Luke, xiv, 31-32.) 

THE policy in foreign affairs of making and 
retaining the friendship of the major Powers, 
whatever their internal system of Government, 
which would be possible after an equitable re 
distribution of territories, has the objection to it that 
it might lead Britain eventually into a position 
wherein she would stand alone in the face of a strong 
bloc prepared to break its pacts of peace with her. 
It is the fear of this eventuality which has caused 
many publicists to advocate Britain s leaping to the 
defence, in turn, of the Abyssinians, the Spanish Reds 
and the mongrel State of Czecho-Slovakia. The 
argument runs lacking an all-inclusive League of 
Nations, Britain must turn either to the old uneasy 
system of a balance of Power, which will almost 
inevitably lead to war, or to bilateral Pacts of Peace 
which will prevent her being directly attacked but 
will not save her several coadjutors for peace from 
being individually attacked by strong and ruthless 
neighbours. 

The lesson of the past twenty years has been that 
no all-inclusive League ready to apply force to an 

212 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 213 

aggressor is possible. An attempted League has 
merely ended in that very uneasy balance of power 
which is condemned on its own lack of merits. 

Any balance of power manoeuvred outside Geneva 
must take Britain either on to the side of the avowed 
anti-Fascists or the avowed anti-Bolsheviks. Since 
Britain is neither fitted nor prepared to make war 
for an ideology, neither alignment is safe for her. 
Nor would her attachment to either side in so bitter 
and irreconcilable a division make for a continuance 
of peace. It would rather bring nearer the clash 
of force. 

But granted that redress is first made of national 
grievances a series of bilateral pacts of mutual 
non-aggression is not only diplomatically possible, 
but politically promising. Britain and Italy on the 
conclusion of the war in Spain will enjoy such a Pact, 
The Anglo-German Naval Pact leads the way to a 
similar understanding between London and Berlin. 
Between Britain and France, Britain and Russia, 
Britain and Spain, Britain and Portugal such pacts 
are eminently possible. 

Herr Hitler has more than once offered a pact of 
peace to France. Such offers have not been treated 
seriously because it is held by the French Left-Wing 
parties that the word of the Reich is not to be trusted 
and because the Franco-Soviet Pact aligns France 
against Fascism as such. 

A pact between Germany and Russia is a political 
impossibility. It will probably remain so for many 
generations to come. 
15 



214 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

It has been widely said that an alliance between 
Britain, Germany and the United States could ensure 
the peace of the world far more certainly than any 
League of Nations. Such an alliance is an idle dream; 
in our time it is as little possible as an all-inclusive 
League. But with Britain, France, Germany, Italy 
and the other European States pledged bilaterally to 
keep the peace with each other, and with the United 
States maintaining its policy of neutrality, a negative 
alliance would be formed of immense value. 

Against broken pledges there is no defence. 
Against a possible trial of strength between the 
Soviet States and the Fascist States there is no pro 
tection. These things apart, a series of diplomatic 
ally ratified friendships could give sufficient assur 
ances of peace to enable those concerned to re- 
approach the difficult business of disarmament by 
agreement. There could come into being a con 
course of nations which would lack one of the main 
disadvantages of the now moribund League, which 
was the refusal of large sovereign States to have their 
affairs adjudicated upon by a medley of small 
nations each liable to be swung towards a decision in 
which they had no real concern by Genevan lobby 
intrigue. Such a concourse, in addition to re- 
approaching disarmament, could ease Russia of her 
fear of Germany and Germany of her fear of Russia 
by subsequent guarantees. 

Some such solution to the European problem 
Britain must press towards, and with speed. Her 
attempt, gaUant as it is, to repair, in three or four 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 215 

years, a fifteen year neglect of her arms and to 
maintain a lavish scale of social services, would be 
crippling at any time. During a period of contrac 
tion in world trade it imposes upon the export 
industries by which the nation lives a handicap 
which, as we have seen in the earlier chapters of this 
book, threatens to leave them prostrate in the race 
for markets. 

By preparing herself against attack, Britain may 
prevent it, but if the period of preparation be pro 
longed the cost of political safety will be economic 
death. A national income of 5,000,000,000 may in 
a time of trade depression sink to 3,000,000,000. By 
the natural increase of civil expenditure and the special 
increase of rearmament expenditure a national Budget 
of approximately 1,000,000,000 may as easily rise to 
1,250,000,000. Add to this need the tremendous weight 
of Local Taxation in an era of rising rates and extensive 
municipal borrowing, and the ratio of Mai taxation to 
income at which the whole Governmental system becomes 
unworkable is reached. Before that time, enterprise 
will be stifled and commercial activity stayed. 

The economic incidence of re-armament does not 
press so heavily upon the Totalitarian States. Under 
their system of Government, however unpleasant it 
may seem to an English mind, the application of both 
capital and labour results in a far greater output 
unit for unit than in those democratic States which 
are restricted by trade union rules and the high 
material standard of living demanded by the general 
populace. It is not merely that such States can make 



216 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

effective a preference for guns rather than butter, it 
is that for the same amount of national expenditure 
as that allocated by a non-Totalitarian State they 
get more guns, just as they would get more butter. 
This is another way of saying that their populations 
put more into industry and take less out than do the 
populations of so-called democratic countries. 

The root reason for this is, of course, that in a 
country like Great Britain or France or the United 
States the mass of workers is not prepared to labour 
hard for long hours for the apparent benefit of a few 
private capitalists and perhaps a scattered mass of 
unknown smaller shareholders. They have been 
taught to distrust any appeal to their patriotism or 
to their instinct of self-preservation. They have 
come to regard such appeals as a cunning method of 
exploitation. 

It is true that on large private fortunes the State 
takes a heavy toll. It is not true that this is generally 
realised. It is also true that workers see capital 
profits being taken on the Stock Exchange by casual 
investors who will pay no tax thereon, and are not 
encouraged to labour harder for such a result. 

This really means that a system such as our own, 
which is partly a system of private enterprise, partly 
a system of communal ownership and partly 
"Corporative/ cannot afford to arm. 

If, as supporters of the Left Wing seem so urgently 
to desire, Britain is to "try conclusions with the 
Dictators/ Britain must enter the conflict on grossly 
unequal terms or she must sacrifice the very system 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 217 

which she is eager to protect. It is the very essence 
of unreason to suppose that a nation with most of 
its inhabitants free to help or not, as they choose, 
can successfully engage in either a military or an 
economic struggle with larger nations every one of 
whose citizens is devoted, willingly or unwillingly, 
to the national cause. It is equally unreasonable to 
suppose that a nation whose system of finance is 
based on the theory that the State must extract from 
the people as small a proportion of their incomes and 
wealth as it can manage to work upon can either arm 
for war or organise for trade as powerfully as a State 
whose finance is based on the opposite theory that 
the citizen himself with his wealth and his potential 
earning or fighting or manufacturing power is sub 
ordinate to the needs of his Government. 

When, for example, talk is heard of the "bank 
ruptcy" of the Totalitarian States there is behind the 
phrase an obvious confusion of thought. A private 
citizen who began to repudiate his debts, to live 
frugally, to appear shabbily clothed, might seem to 
be bankrupt to a normal eye, but the explanation of 
his conduct might be that all his resources were 
being turned to the enrichment of his stamp collection 
or his gallery of old masters. The Totalitarian States 
devoting their wealth to the enrichment of their 
arsenals may seem bankrupt to the outer world, but 
with mounting stores of material and a rising kd of 
exports, both of which Germany has, a nation may 
well think of "bankruptcy" as an ambiguous word. 
If there is a tendency towards national bankruptcy 



218 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

anywhere, one may see it in nations that have yet 
to achieve a competitive level of defences for their 
safety s sake and at the same time are unable to 
live unless from a rapidly falling level of exports, 
visible and invisible, they can procure and pay for 
immense daily quantities of foodstuffs and other 
necessaries. 

It is, indeed, in this last position that Britain 
stands. For her every consideration, selfish as well 
as altruistic, urges the rapid composure of inter 
national differences leading to arrangements whereby 
the piling up of competitive armaments can be stopped 
without loss of security. 

In facing this unpalatable fact I, for one, do not 
believe in peace at any price. It may someday be 
necessary that Britain should plunge all she has, 
and jeopardise all that she is and has been, into 
the arbitrament of war. For the salvation of her 
honour or the preservation of certain vital interests, 
the loss of which would mean eventual destruction, 
Britain may well have to challenge any nation which 
threatens or affronts her. If ever that evil day 
dawns an enemy will find, as a great American wrote 
years ago, that ours is "the surly English pluck, and 
there is no tougher or truer, and never was and never 
will be." 

But surly English pluck, however true and tough, 
will not deflect bombs nor miraculously provide 
manna to replace the food that cannot be convoyed 
or landed and distributed. 

It is vital, therefore, that Britain, as it has been 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 219 

the purpose of this book to urge, should shape the 
policy towards three main objectives: 

(1) Abstention and conciliation in international 
affairs. 

(2) Organisation for military defence, at the cost 
of some curtailment of individual liberty, 

(3) Organisation for the recovery of overseas 
trade, at the sacrifice of certain traditional 
means of conducting and financing manufac 
ture and commerce. 

The first of these means that Britain shall take 
no part in any alignment for the prosecution by arms 
of a particular idea of Government, whether Bol 
shevism or Fascism; that she shall adhere to the 
original spirit of the Covenant of the defunct League 
of Nations, that a nation has a right to conduct its 
internal government without interference or insult 
from others; that she shall not attempt to resist by 
threat or by arms a just redress of grievances or 
territorial inequities. 

The second objective implies much that many 
will find repugnant, and to which few of us in Britak 
would give assent were it not for the dread necessity 
of self defence. It implies the taking of powers by 
Government to ensure that supplies of necessary 
arms are not held up by wrangles between manu 
facturers and departments or by wrangles between 
trades unions and departments. It implies a certain 
measure of conscription of industry. It involves the 
imposition if , indeed, it be an imposition upon 



220 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

the youth of the nation of a period of national 
training and national service. That young men and 
women of all classes of society should for a few years 
lend themselves to be tutored in the essentials of 
defence, such as a knowledge of the internal com 
bustion engine, of medical aid, of elementary field 
engineering, and the like, is no hardship. If the 
community were told that every able-bodied male 
and female was to be given a two or three year 
course of technological education at the termination 
of their normal schooling, national service would 
even wear the appearance to many minds of a social 
boon. The second objective also involves the dele 
gation of every citizen, of whatever age, to certain 
emergency duties, or, in other words, the making 
obligatory of the present voluntary duties of A.R.P. 

Above all else, the organisation for military 
defence must mean a re-conditioning of agriculture. 
The Prime Minister was right in subject but wrong 
in presentation when he said at Kettering that 
Britain cannot hope to grow all the food she needs; 
but Britain can grow very much more than she now 
provides for her own people. 

The re-conditioning of British agriculture means 
far more than aids to farmers. It means that the 
British consumers must be led to a diminished con 
sumption of unnecessary foreign imports of food 
stuffs. The easy method of securing this is by a 
flat, straightforward tariff, prohibitive, if necessary. 

Such tariffs have to them more than one objection. 
They further contract the circumference of trade on 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 221 

which the Chancellor takes his tax yield. It is a 
choice of evils. The contraction is less to be feared 
than the continued decline of British rural life and 
prosperity. It is also argued theoretically that if 
Britain buys less from her overseas suppliers, they 
will be compelled to buy fewer manufactures from 
Britain. The argument is fallacious. In the world s 
multiple bargaining there is no guarantee that our 
suppliers will automatically return our custom. We 
know well that such countries as the Argentine return 
directly not more than 25 per cent, of the purchasing 
power which we provide by our orders. We know 
equally well that a spent in the Argentine only 
returns about 5s. to Britain and that of the remaining 
15s. much goes to countries like the United States of 
America which do not extensively patronise British 
manufactures. 

Against these objections must be set the indubita 
ble benefit of increased tariffs even, as I have 
written, in some cases to the extent of prohibition 
on agricultural produce. They would mean that the 
steady and alarming denudation of the countryside 
would be checked. Instead of the already bloated 
urban populations being further swollen, and the 
problem of their feeding in war time increased, they 
would tend to decrease. Young men and women, 
instead of leaving the healthy life of the country 
would find in it a prosperous career, no longer, 
thanks to the radio, the cinematograph and the ubi 
quitous motor-bus, a career of monotony and mental 
stultification. Britain s adverse balance of payments 



222 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

would be decreased by a possible 10,000,000 to 
15,000,000 a month. 

Although the country s necessities could not be 
wholly supplied, the gap between need and produce 
would be very considerably lessened, and the home 
grown produce would be dispersed, whereas the 
imported produce depends, very largely, upon four 
main ports, each of which with its distributive 
transport, would be an immediate air target in 
warfare. 

The re-conditioning of British agriculture would 
mean that the community at large would have to be 
content with less variation in its table stuffs. Tinned 
exotics might have to give place to more simple 
native fare. The urban standard of living would 
suffer. This would be unavoidable. I cannot say 
that the prospect of fewer pineapples and Calif ornian 
peaches being consumed in Mayfair need wring the 
heart. The diminution of consumption in Portu 
guese melons, French mushrooms, Dutch tulips and 
the like luxuries would not seriously lessen the 
nation s joy of living, and nobody need grumble at 
having to forgo a few trivial amusements for the 
sake of eating English instead of Argentine beef. So 
with fishing. British-caught herrings could replace 
imported sardines without hardship. The Premier 
has assured us that plans are well advanced for the 
increase of food production if war begins. They 
might be put into operation immediately to the true 
benefit of all concerned. 

Similarly, there need be no heart cries at the 



WHITHER BRITAIN ? 223 

prospect of large urban incomes being a little more 
heavily taxed to provide a prosperous countryside, 
on which in extremity Britain could rely for both 
men and means. There is no satisfaction in a 
situation where Road Houses flourish and farm 
houses decay; the patrons of the one might well 
suffer a little for the benefit of the other. 

With the third objective, the organisation of the 
nation for a recovery of our necessary overseas trade 
I have dealt in some detail in "Can 1931 Come 
Again?" In that brochure I devoted far more space 
to the diagnosis of our malaise than to the suggestions 
for possible remedies. With the diagnosis there was 
no serious dispute among the various commentators. 
With the remedies there was much. 

One thing is, to my mind, quite certain. It is that 
if Britain is to sell her goods, which pay for her 
necessaries, she must bring down their cost in the 
face of low-cost competition. To bring down costs 
the nation must consent, either voluntarily or under 
pressure, to live harder* It will not be for ever. 
The discipline will not mean a retrogression in 
standards of living. The low-cost nations will them 
selves pass through our own experiences of desiring 
and demanding a better life as the combined fruit 
of their labour and modern invention. 

We know well why there is immediate opposition 
to the suggestion that the nation must live harder. 
The reason was apparent in a question flung out at a 
recent meeting of railway workers, when a spokesman 
asked why the system should pay one man 14,000 



224 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

a year for a part-time job while hundreds were unable 
to secure -3 a week. It is useless to protest that if 
the one man forwent his 14,000 very few hundreds 
could be provided with the difference between their 
present rate and the desired 3 a week. It is useless 
to argue that unless a large personal reward is offered, 
the right calibre of man to manage an enterprise of 
great size cannot be tempted to sacrifice his leisure 
and composure in its service. The feeling remains 
that any sacrifice demanded of the poorer paid 
workers is merely a further "exploitation of labour." 

A similar deterrent to accepted sacrifice for national 
organisation is the too apparent breakdown of the 
old system of economic control to handle sanely 
the world s wealth. The burnt coffee crops, the 
stored-up tin, the fish flung back into the waters, the 
warehouses crammed with goods which millions lack 
but cannot buy these are not merely rhetorical 
examples from the soap-box rostrums of the Com 
munist agitator. They are genuine symptoms of 
governmental and social ineptitude. 

The fierce animosity of the proletariate and the 
salariate as the masses are taught to call themselves 
against the rentiers is not a vicious and blind class 
hatred. It is an instinctive animosity aroused by 
what seems injustice. It is the hatred of usury. 
There is no antagonism in most breasts to the 
payment of a just hire for the use of capital. The 
antagonism is to an unjust hire or to a casino-like 
traffic in capital that gives certain members of the 
community grotesque rewards for taking not 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 225 

industrial but purely sporting risks. It is aversion to 
the profiteer and the share-shuffler which moves the 
real masses of the people to display reluctance and 
resistance towards measures which affect their 
standards of living, however necessary those measures 
may seem for the general security and survival. 

In proposing necessary immediate correctives to a 
bad economic trend in "Can 1931 Come Again?" I 
admitted, freely, that it may be that only a change 
of system can save Britain from social catastrophe. 
Equally, it may be that only a change of system 
can enable Britain to arm herself against possible 
aggression. 

If that change of system is to come, it had better 
be by the evolutionary consent of the community 
than by a clash of force, such as was endured in 
Russia, Italy and Germany. If that change of 
system is to be avoided, it can only be by those 
drastic reforms within the present system which were 
projected in the earlier chapters of this book, and by 
the shaping of foreign policy as Mr. Chamberlain is 
shaping it and Mr. Eden to the very brink of conflict 
refused to shape it. 

A system of Cabinet Government which entails a 
Cabinet of over a score of Departmental Chiefs 
selected from rival gangs of professional politicians, 
many with no proved executive ability, answerable 
at every step to a motley assemblage of Parliamen 
tarian questioners and talkers, themselves impeded 
by antique forms and punctilio, cannot organise 
a modern industrial State in competition with 



226 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

rivals working under swift, central, unimpeded 
control. 

A house divided against itself cannot stand. 
Britain at this time, neither living under free enter 
prise nor completely socialised, is chronically divided 
against itself. Services essential to the country s 
defence, such as transport, food producing, and 
their auxiliary activities, are left to the hazards of 
limited private enterprise. Their costs and conduct 
cannot be adapted to changing circumstances by the 
free play of competitive bargaining, but their earning 
capacity is severely limited by available custom and 
competition. As private profit-making enterprises 
they are illogically handicapped; as necessary parts 
of a defensive system they are permitted to languish, 
if not to perish. The Parliamentary system, itself 
unreformed though busily reforming economic re 
lations, causes interference in half a dozen ways 
without ensuring a control that would at least render 
these services efficient for one well-defined purpose. 

Such a system with its intentness upon the pro 
tection and furtherance of sectional interests, its 
subordination of immediate national need to party 
necessity and manoeuvring, and its patent inability 
to deal preventively with emergencies before they 
arise cannot organise the nation and in the present 
world, with competitors and possible opponents 
organised fully for national progress at whatever cost 
to the individual citizen, a nation unorganised is a 
nation doomed to defeat whether in trade or war. 

Britain defeated in trade is a Britain starving. It 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 227 

would not be so with her rivals, and therein lies one 
of their greatest advantages. 

To any who have done me the honour to read my 
earlier writings on public affairs, this insistence upon 
a more rigid national organisation will read strangely, 
for the time is not long past when I was engaged in 
fulminating against the evils wrought to national life 
and individual happiness by unrestrained over- 
organisation. There is no inconsistency. Until 1933 
Britain, as I conceive, was under no direct menace. 
In that year she entered a new phase. The rise of 
Nazi Germany, the loss two years later of the 
friendships of Italy and Japan, the inexplicable and 
unforgivable failure of Ramsay MacDonald and 
Earl Baldwin to re-arm their country these took us 
into an era of crises and emergency. The more 
rigid organisation which I now discern as the prime . 
necessity of our national survival will not of necessity 
make for greater happiness or greater comfort. Its 
purpose will be greater security. But it may be 
that an abandonment of a mode of life largely 
devoted to alien amusements and a return to the 
simpler values of our own tradition will neither 
impair personal happiness nor diminish real comfort, 
as hundreds of hikers and campers in our own and 
other countries have of recent years discovered. 

Whatever the effect upon the nation of an enforced 
simpler life it must be faced either as the.resolt of 
self-discipline through government action or as the 
result of economic collapse. 

There is no question of anyone advocating the 



228 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

various restrictive artificialities which constrict living 
as if they were desirable. The ideal solution, to all 
our troubles we all know, would be freer trade 
conducted in circumstances of complete world amity. 
But such an ideal is only too obviously unattainable. 
To speak of it, to dream of it, to denounce anything 
but that ideal as economic madness may amuse well- 
meaning people, but it does not help to save the 
State. Free trade is a mirage of the mind unless 
there is the prospect of reciprocity of purchase, and 
that prospect the policies of the Totalitarian States 
and of the United States, a tariff country, render a 
vain hope. It is because artificialities of trade can 
only be countered and redressed by other artificialities 
that methods like tariffs and bounties have to be 
applied. 

If, in a situation such as we are now about to 
endure, the protest is raised that such artificialities 
will raise the cost of living, the answer is simple. 
It is that the purpose of the artificial restraints is to 
diminish the consumption of the goods tariffed, not 
to raise revenue from them. Let such goods be not 
bought, and the cost of living will not rise. The 
worst that this would mean would be not a poorer 
diet, but a simpler diet, not a poorer life but a 
simpler life. 

The restriction of luxury and semi-luxury imports 
would not be an end in itself. It would be but a 
means to an end. Through the redress of an 
adverse balance of payments, and the deflecting of 
immediate purchasing power from the pockets of 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 229 

foreign manufacturers and produce raisers to British 
workers and agriculturalists, the way would fee 
opened to new trade agreements wherein those 
nations which find Britain a good customer would 
guarantee a more equitable purchase from ha. It 
is idle to say that such agreements are themselves 
vicious and act in restraint of world trade; it is not 
with world trade but with Britain s share of world 
trade that we must be concerned. This selfish 
attitude is forced on us by our need and by the 
refusal of other nations to be selfless. A large share 
of a diminished world trade is preferable to a small 
share of an expanded world trade if in the aggregate 
it be the larger. A diminishing share of a diiniirisMsg 
world trade which is what Britain is now gettag 
is the worst of all. If the steady dimiratiGa is 
tolerated, or encouraged by a refusal to take strong 
measures to counteract it, the end is certain Britain 
impoverished will be unable to continue even her 
present efforts to repair her defences. The much 
cherished social services will go, for they will lack 
the means to finance them. 

A thorough reform and re-organisation of both 
the method of Government and the means of con 
ducting trade must be difficult in a country which 
has neither temperamental sympathy with com 
pulsion nor any great trust in professional politicians. 
Earl Baldwin during his premiership confessed, even 
bewailed, that a democracy must lag two years 
behind a dictatorship, but neither he EOT any otkr 
followed the confession by any active attempt to 

16 



230 WHITHER BRITAIN? 

adjust the disadvantage. It is so much easier for 
politicians to offer their constituents pleasant words 
and benefits from the public funds than to offer them 
grim warnings and restrictions of power. It is also 
safer for the politician, until the day of ultimate 
reckoning arrives, when the lucky fellow may be 
dead or in some " cushy" job in a non-combatant 
service away from the wrath of the betrayed multi 
tudes. The great prototype of Signor Mussolini and 
Herr Hitler, General Cromwell, found a means of 
dealing with an inefficient Parliament, but our time 
is not conducive to Cromwells. 

If acute hardship or a defeat in war afflicts those 
fourteen or more millions within the range of greater 
London and the eight millions or more within the 
Manchester-Leeds belt, if the Clydeside suffers some 
thing approaching famine conditions, then, we may 
be very sure, some Cromwellian leader will make a 
bid for extra-Parliamentary power, whether from the 
Left or the Right. Then we may again see, as in 
1926, armoured cars patrolling the East-End of 
London and, as in the immediate post-war years, 
Tanks in the squares of Northern cities. Acute 
hardship and defeat in war are not mere alarmist s 
bogies. A repetition of the slumps and crises of 
1929-1931 would provide the first, for in those years 
we were neither impelled to spend heavily on arms 
nor had we the restored competition of Germany, 
who to-day, with Japan, saps our overseas markets. 
Defeat in war, if war came, would turn entirely upon 
the success or failure of the raiding bombers to 



WHITHER BRITAIN? 231 

destroy our ports and communications, thus pro 
hibiting both the movement of troops and food 

Neither of these horrors may be Hkdy, but it is 
the duty of reasonable men, particularly of statesmen 
charged with the safety of their people, to face the 
maximum risk. If any deny that these are the 
maximum risk, he deceives himself with hopes, hopes 
that "things will right themselves/ hopes that the 
potential enemy is weaker than he seems, hopes that 
modern destructive weapons will prove less des 
tructive than pessimists fear, hopes that economic 
systems different from our own will somehow break 
down for our benefit Or, if not with k>pes, with 
the superstition that Britain is somehow sacrosanct, 
and that what befell Carthage, Rome, Spain, 
Holland and Portugal cannot befall us. 

Since nobody, except perhaps some half mMoa 
zealots of the extreme Right or the extreme Left, 
wants a new Cromwell to arise as the result of hard 
ship or defeat, other means of reform must be found, 
unless Britain under her present system is always to 
lag two years behind her rivals. 

Those means are available. They rest k the 
hands of one man. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

A wiser and homester Administration may draw us back to our former 
credit and influence abroad, from that state of contempt into which we 
are sunk among all our neighbours. . . . Distress from abroad, bankruptcy 
at home, and other circumstances of like nature and tendency, may beget 
universal confusion. Out of confusion order may arise; but it may be 
the order of a wicked tyranny, instead of the order of a just monarch. 
Either may happen. . . . We may be saved, indeed, by means of a very 
different kind. 

The Idea of a Patriot King, by LORD BOLINBROKE. 

A LTHOUGH it is the general boast that 
L\ Britain s unwritten constitution works so 
^ ^admirably because it is elastic, most of us 
forget just how accommodating it can be. 

The Prime Minister is not the elected head of the 
Government. He is a Minister chosen by the King 
to form an Administration. If he commands suffi 
cient confidence among his colleagues to gather about 
him an adequate Government and to ensure the 
support of the Houses of Parliament for his measures, 
his Administration is formed. As head of the 
Government, his power is enormous. The size of 
his Cabinet is largely a matter for his own choice. 
The business put before the Commons is largely a 
matter for his decision. The use which he makes 
of his very wide powers is entirely a matter for his 
own courage and discretion. 

The assiduous attention which Premiers of recent 
years have paid to the House of Commons would 
have surprised those Prime Ministers of a century 

232 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 233 

ago to whom an Autumn session was a rarity. Did 
he wish, a modern Premier enjoying the confidence 
of the country and the support of his own majority- 
party could, without any breach of duty, free himself 
and his colleagues from much of the iaae-wasting f 
action-retarding, word-spinning attendance which 
recent Parliaments have demanded. 

Following the precedent of the last war, Mr, 
Neville Chamberlain could create a small inner 
Cabinet which could be the Nation s Council of 
Action, able to initiate and pursue policy as no 
debating committee of over twenty members can 
hope to do. Subject only to the money check of tiie 
House of Commons, the Departmental Ministers 
could exercise far greater initiative in their own 
spheres, as the present Minister for War has denn- 
strated and the Minister for Air is demonstmting. 
Recurring and interminable debates on foreign 
policy, the constant fire of questions on matters of 
no moment or of such moment that no questions 
should be asked for world-wide report, the demand 
for the attendance of Departmental Ministers while 
affairs of narrow and sectional interest axe being 
debated by a sparsely filled Chamber, the whipping- 
up of some trivial mischance into a public scandal 
and a Parliamentary crisis these are the aspects of 
Parliamentary Government which bring the wljole 
system to disrepute and actively hinder the vital 
work of government. It would need BO revolution 
and no legislation to remove them, It would not 
even need the permission of the Hoose itseil A! 



234 THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

could be done by a firm exercise by the Premier of 
the power in him vested. 

For the debate of those matters which Parliament 
must rightly supervise another war-time precedent 
could, when necessary, be followed, and secret 
sessions inaugurated. Such sessions, we know, 
are not wholly secret, but at least they pre 
vent partial reports appearing in biased newspapers 
at home and abroad to the embarrassment of 
policy. 

The scope of government by Orders in Council 
could be greatly widened. It is a mode much 
practised in the Provinces of the self-governing 
Dominions, where its use does not lead to any 
appreciable shock to the democratic spirit. 

By a return to the Gladstonian technique of Parlia 
mentary resolutions, which would eliminate the waste 
of time caused by the necessity for passing Bills 
through their many, and largely obsolete, legislative 
stages, much wider powers could be conferred upon 
the Executive without impairing the final authority 
of Parliament. 

The tightening up" of the legislative machine in 
such ways would effect an enormous improvement in 
the work of lessening the time-lag which Earl 
Baldwin rightly detected between the progress of 
dictatorships and that of democracies. If Mr. 
Chamberlain chose to do it, the news of his deter 
mination would be received by the electorate at large 
as gladly as was the news that the caste system of 
the Army was being swept away or that the dangerous 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 235 

office of "Minister for League Affairs * had been 
quietly abolished. 

If the objection be raised that the creation of an 
inner Cabinet, the delegation to selected Departments 
of much of the business now piled upon an unqualified 
debating chamber of over six hundred members, and 
the various other changes of practice designed to 
give power and speed to the Executive constitute a 
sweeping change for which the electorate has given 
no Mandate, the answer is simple. No Mandate is 
needed. In any event, the "sweeping change" is by 
no means as sweeping as was the alteration of our 
relation to India when, without a Mandate of any 
kind, a Premier and a docile House of Commons 
swept away the livelihood of many thousands of 
Lancashire s cotton operatives. 

The superstition that the mass electorate innst be 
asked for a Mandate for every act of policy is quite 
recent. It has no roots in our history or tradition. 
The electorate, if it disapproves of the acts of an 
Administration, may reject the supporters of that 
Administration at the polls; it cannot claim to be 
consulted in advance whenever action must be taken. 
Actually, the National Government need not fear 
the refusal of a Mandate for its work if it has the 
courage to educate the people into a realisation of 
what is the need. Earl Baldwin unbhidiiiigly, 
according to his own confession, misled the electorate 
because he feared that if he told the truth LaMur 
would be returned to Office. His successor need not 
make the same error. The Press, the platform, tbe 



236 THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

radio are all at the disposal of Ministers in Britain, 
as they are in other countries. Hitherto, no con 
certed attempt has been made to use them for the 
political education of the populace. 

The fear has been that if the people were told that 
the condition of the nation was unsatisfactory, and 
a cause for acute apprehension, they would turn on 
the Government for permitting such a condition to 
develop. Although Mr. Chamberlain was party to 
all that happened under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and 
Earl Baldwin, and is that far implicated, he has no 
special responsibility for the crisis with which he 
now struggles. He can afford to tell the truth and 
the people will accept it. The truth surely is: 

Because of the failure to re-arm after the knowledge that 
Germany had re-armed, Britain is even yet unequipped 
for another world war. 

Because of the policy of "Edenism" Britain has been left 
virtually friendless in a hostile world of armed nations, with 
none but France and Russia among the first-class Powers 
as her nominal friends France admittedly disintegrating 
under the stresses of an economic, social and financial 
breakdown; Russia in the throes of one of her periodical 
purges. 

Because of her inability to compete with the low-cost 
countries, Britain is rapidly losing her export trade in 
textiles, ships, coal and other major products; and 

Because of her need to import heavily for armaments she 
is increasing her purchases from abroad at an alarming 
rate, the adverse visible balance in 1937 being no less 
than 24 per cent, higher than in 1936, and 1938 
threatening to be much higher again, while her income 
from the invisible exports shrinks rapidly. 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 237 

Because her trade is shockingly unbalanced and because 
the world fears that she may be involved in war, Britain s 
currency is losing value, which means that raw materials 
and imported foodstuffs will grow dearer, this again 
raising her costs. 

Because of wilful neglect in the past, Britain s agriculture 
sinks further and further into decline, this accentuating 
the dangerous lack of balance between urban and rural 
populations and increasing the nation s reliance upon 
imported necessaries. 

Because of the cumulative effect of these things, tnuempioy- 
ment is rising, and when -as it shortly may it over-tops 
the 2,000,000 figure, the tmemployment fond wffl become 
again insolvent, thus throwing new burdens upon a 
Budget which already threatens to ask foe greater sums 
than the national income in its shrinking conditioii f*> 
raise. The Fund, having to sell the git-edged securities 
which it at present holds, will help to depress the market 
value of British Government stocks, and so add a fetter 
weight to the forces making for falling sterling. 

This conglomeration of evils, not the imaginings of 
mad pessimism but actualities indicated by every 
known set of indices, cannot be resolved or cared 
unless greater power of control and swift movement 
is given to those charged with the Government of 
the Nation. If that power is withheld, Britain must 
either stumble into a devastating war or an almost 
equally devastating economic collapse* 

Let Mr. Chamberlain appeal to the nation to face 
these things, and the requisite power wffl not be 
withheld from him for his opponents caanot aigpe 
away facts. The official Labour opposition with its 
infatuation for Socialism cannot, indeed, logicaHy 



238 THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

object to a strengthening of Central Control, although 
it may challenge the selection of the man or men 
to be entrusted with that control. The issue there 
would be plain whether the country is to be en 
trusted to an Administration the leaders of which 
have shown themselves eager to plunge the British 
people into the horrors of a new war out of distaste 
for the type of Government adopted by the Totali 
tarian States or to an Administration which has 
already shown itself determined to avoid such a 
catastrophe until Britain s hand is forced by some 
immediate and vital threat to her own interests and 
security. 

In 1916, under the stress of actual war, and again 
in 1931, under the pressure of economic crisis, the 
system of Parliamentary Government by Party 
wrangle was by common desire abandoned. The 
present emergency, with its acknowledged threat to 
peace and its now painfully obvious menace to British 
economic stability, makes the Party wrangle as 
dangerous and inadequate now as in the previous 
crisis years. It is preposterous, as Sir Oswald 
Mosley rightly insists, that we should pay one man 
10,000 a year to govern the country and another 
man 2,000 a year to prevent him from doing it. 
The duty of the Opposition, we know, is to oppose, 
but the tolerance of perpetual opposition and cross- 
examination when every hour is of value to the 
work of re-arming and re-conditioning a nation in 
the face of menace is suicidal. If the parties and 
factions that make up the Parliamentary motley 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 239 

cannot themselves co-operate for the attainment of 
executive efficiency, it becomes the duty of the 
Leader of the House to impose legitimate restraints 
upon them. If he fears to do this without further 
mandate, let him seek it at the election which is, by 
the natural term and usages of Parliament, now 
within sight.* 

One thing the Munich Conference did show to the 
British people was that in times of crisis action moves 
from the hands of the many to the hands of one. Let 
the nation realise that for a generation it must face 
either a sustained crisis or a series of crises, and the 
placing of executive power in the hands of the 
Prime Minister of the day will not be resisted. 

If some such step towards quick reform is not 
taken, Mr. Chamberlain will find, and the country 
will find with him, that a Parliamentary democracy, 
by its very nature, cannot arm, and in $fe &Mempt ta 
arm will $o heavily burden the industries by %&Mck it 
lives that they will cease to promde even the ecomme 
means of survival. 

This statement, startling and grotesque as it must 
seem to many minds, I will support by a short re 
statement of some of the earlier points of this book, 
re-phrased and a little elaborated. 

(1) The re-armament of a nation like Greai Britain Axes 
not merely mean tbe supply of a certain ntmber of ^weaf&, 
It means the supply of certain weapons adequate!? imnsed 
and welded into an offensive or defensive force. It is 



*The present Parliament could retain its tenure until 
but usage is against a Parliament remaining in office Jor tfee iaH term 
allowed* 



240 THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

for example, sufficient to supply a given number of aero 
planes. They must be aeroplanes of uniform model three 
or four types at most for which uniform replacement of 
parts can be achieved, with uniform training for ground 
staff and pilots, and a uniform system of tactical and 
strategical manoeuvre. 

(2) To achieve such a supply with the necessary rapidity 
there must be vested in the authority which orders the 
weapons power to prevent manufacturers from holding up 
or holding back the necessary quantity, and power to 
reimburse those manufacturers who have either to scrap 
plant or provide plant for the purpose of fulfilling the demand. 
It was the lack of this power that caused the initial delay in 
aerial re-armament. 

(3) The cost of such rapid re-armament will be too much 
for the normal annual Budget, and for the relatively small 
though by comparison with normal finance actually 
great borrowing powers at present given to the Govern 
ment. Some portion of the cost must be born by the Budget; 
taxation must rise. With rising taxation the value of 
Government stocks to the holders falls. The cost of new 
borrowing will increase. With that increase the debt 
service, which is part of a normal Budget, will also increase, 
causing further rises in taxation. Rising taxation is an 
added burden on industry, making British exports less 
able to compete with their rivals. Profits must thus fall, 
and to obtain the higher yield which he needs the Chancellor 
must again raise his rates of taxation. 

(4) The Government s ability to borrow for re-armament 
depends upon the willingness of lenders in a free market to 
lend at the offered rate of interest. If the market sees that 
future borrowing will be necessary, and at a higher rate 
owing to the consideration set out in (3) above- money 
will not be forthcoming for the earlier low-interest loans. 
Hitherto, when a Government loan has not been met with a 
willing response from the market, certain Departments have 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 241 

subscribed. But in times of trade recession, certain Depart 
ments are not potential subscribers for loans, but are 
themselves liable to be sellers of stock. The Unemployment 
Fund and the Post Office, for example, may be forced by 
the demands of their beneficiaries and depositors to realise 
rather than add to their investments. The failure or partial 
failure of a great Government loan would injure sevendy 
the credit of both the London market and sterling, a blow 
which neither in our present circumstances can atad to 
sustain. 

(5) Since the supply of modem weapons must be properly 
manned by properly-trained personnel the Government 
must either offer increased rewards f or service or have tfae 
power to impress men and women. As the idea of National 
Service has, for some reason, been repudiated by successive 
Governments and is felt to be distasteful to tiie electorate, 
the first must be the method. This wil draw iBfco anus, 
munitions and the services workers from industry and cause 
those that remain to demand pay on a better scate. 

in certain agricultural counties, the trained 
worker has begun to drift to local afirodrosoes, asd Is being 
replaced by imported and unskilled worfceis wfao draw tie 
pay of the skffied type they replace. This wil again add to 
the handicap of the exporting industries. 

(6) The need to disburse money in these ways and to 
raise it partly by taxation and partly by loans at rising 
rates of interest must, as has been stated, increase taxation 
Increased taxation will cripple and may largely efamaie 
the rentier and s&w-renfier classes of society. If it be 
assumed that their purchasing power is merely transferred 
to other dasses of resident Britons, the efiect wil be too 
unbalance employment and throw great strain upon certain 
municipalities. If, for instance, nraiey is tafcea fern Hie 
rentiers of London and the South to go to munition wmteas 
in the North, the Southern Coradls wffi find the yield foots* 
rates falling. They wfll have to increase assesssients or 



242 THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 

rates, or both. This will bear hardly upon their own indus 
tries and tradespeople. But much of the purchasing power 
taken from the rentiers may not go to British workers. It 
may go to American aircraft builders or foreign suppliers of 
necessary raw material, who may not increase their own 
purchases from Britain. This will tend still further to 
unbalance the trading position of the country, and to drive 
sterling further down, with the usual "snow-ball" effects 
upon imported raw materials and necessary foodstuffs. 

If these points are sound, it may be asked, how 
comes it that what relatively prosperous Britain is 
said to be unable to do, the impoverished Totalitarian 
States are doing? The answer is that with re-arma 
ment as with their export industries, the Totalitarian 
States can produce far more cheaply than we. They 
can produce far more cheaply because their workers 
work longer and harder for a lower standard of living, 
and because their peoples are controlled and directed 
to one end the equipment of the State. 

A trader who gives himself little leisure, works 
hard and lives sparingly will other things being 
equal always drive from business a rival who 
insists on generous leisure, works half-heartedly and 
lives expensively. So it is with nations. 

The ultimate questions which Britain has to face 
are these. Can a Prime Minister, under our present 
system, exercise sufficient power to organise the 
country in such a way that it can compete with its 
highly organised, hard living, ambitious rivals, both 
in defences and trade? If he cannot, dare Britain 
persist in a system which so handicaps her? 

It is not a question of "butter or guns?" It is not 



THE POWER OF THE PREMIER 243 

a question of "liberty or discipline?" It is a question 
of whether the forty-seven millions in these Islands 
will submit to the sacrifice of a little leisure, individual 
liberty and comfort to try to maintain their freedom 
as a State and their prosperity as a nation, or 
whether they will insist upon maintaining a decayed 
Parliamentary system, declared to be inefficient by 
its own supporters, and an uneconomic mode of 
living, knowing from the events of their recent 
history and the unmistakable signs about them that 
these are leading them to irremediable material 
hardship and may plunge them into military disaster 
and defeat. 



INDEX 



Abyssinia, 65, 67, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 
78, 83, 85, 87, 88, 89, 92, 93, 94, 
95 96, 98, 99, loo, 101, 102, 104, 
105, 106, 108, 142, 146, 147, 167, 
175, 183, 186, 189, 198, 200, 201, 

204, 2O8, 212. 

Abyssinia : Regent of, 77. 

Africa, 49, 73, 74, 75, 76, 193, 204, 

205, 208. 
Asquith, 127. 
Australasia, 49. 

Austria, 20, 48, 59, 184, 186, 189, 

196, 208. 
Austria-Hungary, 84. 

Baldwin, Stanley (afterwards Lord), 
*> 57 59, 62, 69, 76, 86, 90, 92, 96, 
97, 98, 99, 100, 103, 105, 107, in, 
112, 128, 173, 227, 229, 234, 235, 
236. 

Balfour, A. J., 127, 203. 

Balfour, Jabez, 44. 

Baratieri, General, 74. 

Belgium, 74, 190. 

Benes, President, 2. 

Benn, Sir E. J. B., 70. 

Berchtesgaden, 13, 

Bismarck, 48. 

Bolshevism, 56, 66, 67, 79, 83, 87, 
91, no, in, 112, 134, 135, 139, 
148, 154, 161, 165, 166, 169, 195, 
199, 200, 213, 219. 

Bottpmley, Horatio, 44. 

Brazil, 20. 

Brussels Conference, 182, 183. 

Canada, 49. 

Carlyle, 38. 

Canning, George, 200. 

Carson, Sir Edward (afterwards 

Lord), 127. 

Cecil, Lord Robert, 113. 
Chamberlain, Sir Austen, 69, 105, 

109. 
Chamberlain, Neville, i, 2, 3, 56, 71, 

151, 184, 188, 200, 201, 220, 225, 

233* 234, 23,6, 237, 239. 
Churchill, Randolph, 173. 

17 2 45 



China, 21, 22, 49, 55, 167, 169, 170, 

171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, *% 

194, 198, 204, 208. 
Clive, Robert, 6, n. 
Cobbett, William, 13. 
Collective Security, 31. 53, 109, 142, 

189, 190, 191. 
Communism, 30, 56, 61, 62, 65, 91, 

in, *33, I34 *36, 150, 182, 224* 
Czechoslovakia, 2, 142, 178, 208, 



Davies^ Norman, 181. 
Denmark, 48. 
Disraeli, 37, 106. 
Drake, 6, n. 

Eden, Anthony, 64-70, 79-91, 96,97, 
99, 101-107, 109, no, 113, 123, 
124, 135, 140-151, 257-168, 174, 
175, 177-^81, 183, 184, 225, 

Egypt, 12, 49, 67, 73. 

Eritrea, 73, 75, 76. 

Fascism, 61, 80, 83, 110, in, 112, 
127, 137, 154, 155, 158, 165, 187, 
194. 195, 199. 213, 214, 219. 

Finklestein, 65, no. 

Flandin, 103, 145, 

Four Point Speech, 114, 115, 208* 

Fourteen Points, 114, 115, 116, 117, 
208. 

France, 2, 3, 15, 16, 48, 49, 52, 56, 
65, 66, 68, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 80, 
81, 84, 86, 87, 91, 96, 98, 99, 101, 
102, 103, 104, 107, 139, 142, 143, 

145, 150, 151* 156, 157. 164. *&5, 
166, 169, 178, 183, 190, 202, 211, 

213, 214, 2l6, 222, 236, 

Franco, General, 67, 68, 70, 152, 

153, 154, 159, 161, 162, 164, 165, 
166. 

General Strike, 29. 

Geneva, 53, 63, 67, 78, 80, 81, 82, 85, 
86, 94, 97, loo, ioi, 103, 104, 105, 
107, 142, I44, 147, 149, 150* I5L 

154, 185, 188, 189, 204, 213, 214. 



246 



INDEX 



Germany, I, 2, 3, 20, 21, 22, 25, 48, 
51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 
63, 64, 66, 68, 69, 73 74> 75, 7 6 , 
80, 84, 87, 92, 96, 98, 101, 103, 
109, no, in, 112, 113, 114, 115, 
117-127, 130-140, 141-150, 151, 
152, 154, 155, 157, 158, 159, 160, 
161, 163, 165, 166, 167, 168, 175, 
176, 178, 180-186, 189, 190, 
193-197, 199, 201, 205, 206, 207, 
208, 210, 211, 213, 214, 217, 225, 
227, 230, 236. 

Gladstone, W. E., 37, 234. 

Gladstone, Herbert, 39. 

Godesberg, i, 2. 

Goebbels, 131, 138. 

Gondar, 77, 78, 79. 

Gordon, 74, 75. 

Goring, 130, 134, 138, 207. 

Greece, 104, 164. 

Gretton, R. H., quoted, 38. 

Grev-iUe, Lord, 109. 

Halifax, Lord, 180, 181, 184. 

Hess, 138. 

Hitler, Adolph, I, 2, 61, 62, 63, 70, 
102, 109, 112, 121-129, 130-134, 
138, 139, 140-146, 160, 161, 180, 
181, 199, 201, 207, 213, 230. 

Hintze, von, 114. 

Hindenburg, 132, 140. 

Hoare, Sir Samuel, 85, 93-99, io> 
101, 102, 105, 160. 

Holland, 4, 231. 

Hugenberg, 133. 

Hungary, 59, 84, 193- 



India 12, 22, 
204. 

Isaacs, Rufus 
Reading, 137. 

Italy, 2, 22, 55 
72-77, 78, 79, 
99, too, 102, 
in, 142, 143, 
152, 154, 155, 
164, 165, 166, 
183, 184, 186, 

195, 197* 199, 
213, 214, 225, 



25, 49, 90, 172, 
(afterwards Lord 

, 56, 60, 61, 64-67, 
80-90, 92-96, 98, 
103, 104, 105-108, 
146, 147, 150, 151, 
157, 158, 159, 163, 
167, 175, 178, 182, 
189, 190, 193, 194, 

2O2, 2O3, 210, 211, 
227, 231. 



Jameson Raid, 73, 74. 



Japan, 2, 5, 21, 22, 25, 55, 56, 64, 
68, 80, 81, 82, 92, 96, 101, 102, 
106, 147, 150, 167, 168, 169, 
170-178, 182, 183, 184, 186, 189, 
190, 192, 193, 194, 195, 197, 198, 
199, 202, 211, 227, 230. 

Jews, 124, 125, 126, 136, 137, 138, 
203, 204. 

Kellogg, 60, 182. 

Kitchener, Sir H. (afterwards Lord), 
75, 7S- 

Lancing, Sir R., 114, 115. 

Lausanne, 60. 

Laval, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101. 

League of Nations, 31, 47, 53, 54, 
55, 59, 60, 64, 65, 66, 68, 72, 77, 78, 
79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 87, 90, 92-5, 
97-99, 101, 102, 104, 106, 107, 
109, no, 139, 142, 145, 146, 147, 
149, 150, 167, 170, 173, 175, 176, 

185, 189, 2O2, 204, 207, 212, 213, 
214, 219. 

Libya, 75. 

Litvinof, 65, no, 135, 140, 166, 174. 

See also Finkelstein. 
Locarno, 60, 144, 145, 146, 147. 
Lytton Commission, 170, 171. 

MacDonald, Ramsay, i, 57, 141 

173, 227, 236. 
Mandel, M. 69. 
Marconi, 44, 108. 
Menelek, Emperor, 74. 
Mexico, 20. 
Milner, Fredrick, 10. 
Munich, i, 2, 239. 
Mussolini, 60, 61, 70, 78, 79, 89, 90, 

112, 123, 127, 142, 143, 180, 184, 

189, 199, 210, 216, 230. 

National Debt, 26. 

Nazis, 61, 62, 63, 83, no, in, 112, 

115, 127, 128, 132, 134, 136, 138, 

148, 158, 189, 227. 
Negus, 77, 78, 88, 93, 95, 96, 150. 
Netherlands, 84. 
Neurath, von 163 
Nyon Conference, 164. 

Omdurman, 78, 79. 

Papen, von, 132, 133, 
Palestine, 137, 138, 203, 204. 
Peel, 37. 



INDEX 



247 



Poland, 48, 142, 193. 

Portugal, 74, 155, *57* *& 2I 3> 

222, 231. 

Prague, 3. 
Prussia, 48. 

Reading, Lord, 137. 

Reform Bill (1832), 35, 36. 

Rhodesias, 73. 

Rohm, Captain, 130, 140. 

Roosevelt, President, 182. 

Rumania, 178, 179. 

Russia, 2, 3. 5&> 65, 66, 68, 79, 81, 83, 

84, 87, 91, 102, 110, 112, 121, 134, 

135, 136, 140, I4 J > J 4 2 *45> *48, 
150, 151, 154. I 57> I 59> 164, 165, 
174, 183, 184, 193, 199, 200, 213, 
214, 225, 236. 

Salisbury, Lord, 74. 

Sanctions, 80-83, 85, 86, 88, 90, 92, 

93> 94, 99, ioo, 101-107, 149, 175* 

189. 

Samuel, Lord, 137. 
Schleicher, von, General, 132. 
Simon, Sir J., 39, i<>9 *37. 139- 
Socialism, 30. 
Spain, 2, 4, 5, 15* 6 7 8 4> 150-159* 

160-166, 183, 184, 198, 201, 212, 

213, 23** 



S-weden, 49. 

Stock Exchange, 29, 216. 

Stresa, 60, 78, 79* 143, 189. 

Sudan, 49, 67, 73-79. 

Suez Canal, 67, 83, 84, 85, 155. 

Somalfland, 75, 76. 

Tana Lake, 76. 

Thomas, J. H., 149^ 

Treveryan, G. M., 35, 36. 

Turkey, 84, 164, 178, 179, 202, 

Treaty of London, 75, ?&, 79^ 193- 

Treaty of Versailks, 32, 52, 54. ^> 
63, 117, 118, ng> 128, 139, 14^* 
142, 143, 145. 147* *4 8 *49> ^m 
161, 185, 196, 201, 211. 

Treaty of Washington, 182. 

United States, 55 ^ **> $** 
114, 115, 128, 147, 16^ 169, I7, 
179, 181, 182, 185, 18^ 214, 216, 

221, 228, 

Wal-WA 77* 7 79* *9*. 
William, II, Kaiser, US "9- 
WJIson, Woodrow, 65, 114* "5* ^ 
117, H9, 208, 209* 

Yugoslavia, 104. 



THE ROME-BERLIN-TOKIO AXIS. 

THIS MAP SHOWS THE STRATEGICAL COMMAND EXERCISED 
BY THE AXIS VIS-A-VIS THE BRITISH EMPIRE. 



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